Is cash still king? Examining physical money in a digital world

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,318   +162
Staff member

Perhaps you've heard the phrase "cash is king" used in the context of money. Before the digital age, virtually all ordinary transactions involved the exchange of cash for goods or services rendered. Things are certainly different in 2022 with Internet banking, mobile payments and cryptocurrency, but are we really ready to end our relationship with cold, hard cash?

A recent survey from risk management firm ThirdPartyTrust found that 76 percent of Americans had cash in their wallet or purse at the time they were polled. When asked how often they use cash, only 12 percent said they do so daily. Just over one in four people said they use cash on a weekly basis, and roughly the same number said they do so monthly.

Eight percent of those polled said they never use cash.

Sanitation may be a big part of why some shy away from physical currency. The survey revealed that 41 percent of people judge cash's appearance before touching it, and 36 percent said they reject dirty or gross bills. A full 61 percent said they wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after handling cash or coins, and 19 percent admitted they have stopped using cash since the pandemic started.

Nine out of 10 people surveyed said they use a mobile payment service app, with PayPal, Venmo, Zelle and Apple Pay being among the most popular.

Cash still has its benefits and for many, it is as a rainy day fund. More than half (53 percent) said they keep emergency cash on hand (usually somewhere at home), and the average mount stashed away is $500.

What does your relationship with cash look like these days? Does ease of use, cleanliness or convenience factor into your preference? What about leaving a paper trail?

Permalink to story.

 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 4,597   +2,563
Cash is a hassle. I can breath easy knowing I can cancel my lost card. I can't cancel lost cash. Tap to pay is also way faster. I hate cash paying slowpokes in line.

I haven't used cash for retail purchases in years. I don't carry all my ID with me wherever I go either. Replacing ID is the ultimate hassle. Drivers license is all the ID I carry daily. Easier to replace if lost.
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 2,707   +2,946
TechSpot Elite
Cash is a hassle. I can breath easy knowing I can cancel my lost card. I can't cancel lost cash. Tap to pay is also way faster. I hate cash paying slowpokes in line.
I don't remember when I used cash last time.

79e857419029ef93d673ccd011a978b9.gif


Cash sucks. I keep some for the start of the zombie apocalypse, and I have 1 credit card.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,183   +3,768
One of cash‘s advantages is that it always works, regardless if networks, terminals or authorization systems do. It‘s also safe from cyberattacks.

Another advantage is that spending is easier to control with it - you can only spend what you have at hand.

Don‘t get me wrong - I use and appreciate non-cash payments but I never want cash replaced 100% by digital payments.
 

BSim500

Posts: 906   +2,131
I use cash more and more often these days. Sick of card readers acting up everywhere I go and every company being sold my transaction history.
Indeed. And if you've ever experienced a "the excrement just hit the air mover" event (not necessarily due to war, could be a local event like a flood with extended power outages and road closures), you'll know just how quickly things 'get real' when that ultra privileged bubble of "digital convenience" goes offline (even temporarily). Only a complete halfwit living the world's most sheltered life wouldn't have at least some emergency cash on hand.
 

Sathi43

Posts: 52   +63
You can stack cash on a table. Try to do that with virtual money. On a more serious note, as a medium of exchange, different forms of money are king in their own domain of application. Obviously there's no one answer.
 

Axle Grease

Posts: 263   +212
Except for online payments I paid by cash for groceries, haircuts, and any low cost items up until the CCP virus hit. I rarely use cash these days. Taxi drivers like cash and one or two small businesses, and I'm happy to oblige.
 

Badvok

Posts: 350   +180
One of cash‘s advantages is that it always works, regardless if networks, terminals or authorization systems do.
Not strictly true, vendors are and always have been allowed to refuse cash payments. Most often because notes are too high value, dirty or damaged. These days there are places that refuse all cash payments.
 

dangh

Posts: 662   +1,037
I'm usually having one €20 bill in my wallet, for an emergency resons - there are still some rare instances where you actually have to use that (I don't think it hapened to me in last 6 months though)
In any other situations I'm using usually my phone to pay for anything. Sometimes my card.
But - cash is cash, no matter if physical or digital.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,183   +3,768
Not strictly true, vendors are and always have been allowed to refuse cash payments. Most often because notes are too high value, dirty or damaged. These days there are places that refuse all cash payments.
I was speaking strictly of technical reasons.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,183   +3,768
Indeed. And if you've ever experienced a "the excrement just hit the air mover" event (not necessarily due to war, could be a local event like a flood with extended power outages and road closures), you'll know just how quickly things 'get real' when that ultra privileged bubble of "digital convenience" goes offline (even temporarily). Only a complete halfwit living the world's most sheltered life wouldn't have at least some emergency cash on hand.
The sad part is that our society is moving more and more to a convenience / efficiency optimized model that greatly decreases resilience and introduces a host of single points of failure.
 

m3tavision

Posts: 833   +616
Not strictly true, vendors are and always have been allowed to refuse cash payments. Most often because notes are too high value, dirty or damaged. These days there are places that refuse all cash payments.
That^ is illegal in the USA to refuse cash payment.

Debit/credit cards are a nice convenience but they do not replace having a couple hundred in your wallet. (And to the person who's main worry was about loosing money... loosing a CC is a bigger headache...)
 

bviktor

Posts: 946   +1,380
One of cash‘s advantages is that it always works, regardless if networks, terminals or authorization systems do. It‘s also safe from cyberattacks.

Another advantage is that spending is easier to control with it - you can only spend what you have at hand.

Don‘t get me wrong - I use and appreciate non-cash payments but I never want cash replaced 100% by digital payments.
No, cash doesn't always work. Beaches and festivals are 2 major examples already.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,183   +3,768
No, cash doesn't always work. Beaches and festivals are 2 major examples already.
Why wouldn‘t it - technically - work there ? That was my point.

Even if everything fails (networks, IT systems, central power) there‘s nothing that keeps vendors from accepting cash if they want to.

Electronic payments… not so much. We had a major outage over here recently that was due to issues with particular terminals that prevented many major retailers from accepting any type of electronic payment for several days.
 

yannus

Posts: 81   +65
Cash is uncontrollable and that's good. Once your bank account is controlled by the government and they start the social credit, then you'll miss cash. Once inflation reaches unbearable pressure, you'll miss physical gold. Technology isn't necessarily progress. The same thing applies to food. Natural, organic food will always be the healthiest.
 

rrwards

Posts: 242   +465
That^ is illegal in the USA to refuse cash payment.

Debit/credit cards are a nice convenience but they do not replace having a couple hundred in your wallet. (And to the person who's main worry was about loosing money... loosing a CC is a bigger headache...)

Losing a CC is a much smaller worry imo. Most CC limit the amount of fraud spending damages you are accountable for to $50 (and some won't hold you accountable for anything). If I lose more than $50 it's already worse than a CC. However, I will give you that losing a debit card is far worse since there's very few stolen card protections in place.
 

waclark

Posts: 534   +342
That^ is illegal in the USA to refuse cash payment.

Debit/credit cards are a nice convenience but they do not replace having a couple hundred in your wallet. (And to the person who's main worry was about loosing money... loosing a CC is a bigger headache...)

Nope, this is from the Fed Reserve

There is no federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law that says otherwise.

https://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12772.htm