Visa Say Cash Is Dead. Honestly.

Posted on: 27/01/2015

Kevin Jenkins runs the Visa Card Scheme in the UK. 

Kevin is a very honest man. He honestly wants Visa to become bigger and bigger each year.

For Visa to grow, use of cash must decline. Therefore Kevin has predicted that cards will account for 95% of all transactions in the UK within 10 years, up from a current more healthy 50%. Since over 90% of all cards in the UK carry the Visa brand, this outcome would give Visa profits a big boost. Honestly.

Of course, Visa cannot make this miracle work on their own. They need little helpers. A bit like Santa, only there are no gifts involved. At least not for us, the public.

One of Visa's enthusiastic little helpers is Transport for London. TfL to their friends.

Some years ago TfL developed, at great cost, their Oyster Cards. These "touch & go" cards proved very popular with London commuters, primarily because they offered a 40% discount as against the prices of normal tickets.

Having a great success on their hands has all been too much for TfL. Rather than continue with their winning formula, they have agreed that Visa and other  Contactless cards can also be used on a "touch & go" basis on the London Underground and London Buses. Oyster usage is forecast to decline as a result. Who knows. Within a decade, Oyster could be gone. Along with  those 40% discounts.

Back to Honest Kevin at Visa. He says TfL accepting Contactless Cards has been  "particularly important". He is right. If TfL had not been willing to see Oyster going down the tube, Contactless transactions might have remained at embarrassingly low levels. Embarrassing for Visa certainly. They have spent $$$$$$$ by the hundred million trying without much success to sell the concept to a skeptical public. With TfL now helping, there is at least a small chance of some limited success. TfL have tried to enhance those chances by also banning the use of cash for ticket purchase on London Buses. In short, the right of the public to choose how they pay has been sacrificed, to the benefit of Visa and other card schemes.

Whilst Visa have been predicting the convenient ( for them) demise of cash, Tesco have come up with some figures on how much time Contactless saves per customer at their tills. The grocery giant quotes 6 seconds per customer as the time saved.

At Cash-is-Cool, we very much like hard facts, rather than self-serving predictions. We are also keen on concepts such as Freedom, Choice, Independence, which do not sit well with, for example, the vested interests who want our cash to disappear.

So heres the thing about Tesco's 6 seconds statistic. What it is really saying is that if you shop 6 times a day, using a Contactless card will save you personally, the customer, a grand total of 36 seconds. Now we all know time is precious, BUT do we, the public, really want to sacrifice our freedom to choose to use cash ( or any other payment method that is NOT Contactless) to save 36 seconds a day? Is that "NO!!!" you are shouting? Good.

Lets be clear, there is no gain for the public in giving up choice where payments are concerned. There are only losses, including the forfeiting of our personal freedoms. Such freedoms are constantly under threat and we must all resist their erosion. However much that might upset the predictions of Honest Kevin.



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