Posted on: 04/08/2011

From where I’m sitting, the excitement about contactless debit cards seems to be a lot of fuss over nothing. Although banks have invested billions in telling us how great contactless technology is, it seems as though all this ‘swiping’ is simply an attempt to make cards more superficially attractive.

With that in mind, let me say this – if you are signing up for a contactless card, don’t expect it to change your life, because it won’t.
I’ve used mine once.

I was sent a contactless card a couple of years ago. I tried it out in a sandwich shop - I waved, I swiped, and I tapped with no joy, instantly doubling the time it would have taken to hand over my cash. My face reddening, a queue built up behind me. I swished and I swiped, but there was nothing to be done. Embarrassingly (for both parties involved) I was eventually directed to a cashier pay-point. Lesson learnt: At least I know cash will always work when I’m in a hurry.

There are a number of reasons why I hesitate from jumping on the contactless bandwagon, but perhaps the most important is that I can only see contactless payments making the path to rack and ruin that bit more of a slippery slope. Do we really need another way to effortlessly spend small amounts of money?

The fact that we're not physically handing over cash when we buy something, but instead just waving one piece of plastic at another, means that we're less likely to acknowledge what we're spending, and are more likely to let our spending get out of control. Rather than emptying our pockets or purses and stopping, we will obliviously continue to swipe away until we receive our bank statements at the end of each month. It’s only then that we’ll see the damage that has been done.

Just another reason why Cash-is-Cool – you know what you’re getting and there are no hidden strings attached. So why try and fix it when it ain’t broke?

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