Posts Tagged With: plastic

At the end of the rainbow: A wealth of “plastic”

Jake Wasdin. Flickr. April 6, 2008.

Jake Wasdin. Flickr. April 6, 2008.

Does the demise of the Canadian penny foreshadow the future of money itself?  More Canadians and Americans may find they have left home with plenty of “plastic”, but no money more often.  Even if you choose to avoid credit cards, you likely have a plastic bank debit card that permits you to make deposits and withdrawals at automatic tellers.  Of course, this same debit card can be conveniently used to pay for purchases.  Grocery and drug stores will even permit you to make cash withdrawals during your purchases.  If these conveniences haven’t been enough to convince most people of the benefits of “plastic”, store membership cards will provide discounts.  More commonly, too, riders of public transportation must pay for rides via pre-paid plastic cards.

While money may appeal to the senses with its shiny surfaces, ornate decorations, and substantive relative heft, it can’t offer the security of those lightweight, disposable plastic cards.  Lost and stolen money remains that way.  Colorful, fragile plastic cards are easily replaced.  Even better, the cash or credit behind them is promptly protected by a telephone call.  This security for hard earned cash may dissipate even lingering nostalgia for the jingle of coins and the crinkle of crisp paper.  If more security isn’t sufficient, the greater efficiencies of payment are sure to convince Americans.  Already notorious in their penchant for speed, Americans can avoid spending time counting out cash at the check-out counter if they pay with “plastic”.  Paying at the gas pump permits the buyer to avoid the time spent walking to and from the cashier’s office entirely.

Given these astounding advantages of “plastic”, the simple charm of money is overwhelmed.  Its presence will fade from view as we become accustomed to its virtual representatives.  Bank statements, debit cards, discount cards, and transit cards have already been joined by “app’s” that permit mobile payments.  Payment for airline tickets and highway tolls must be made virtually.  Shopping on the web requires one of money’s virtual representatives.  Cash registers have long been computers that calculate purchase totals and dispense change in coins.  Self-check-out lanes are becoming a routine option at major grocery and home supply stores.  Even public clothes washers and dryers often accept credit and debit cards.  Soon, there will be no products or services for which paper bills and coins are accepted.  The expense of processing them will prevent them from being instituted at all.  What will be the color of money?  Any color you choose.  Like bank debit cards, you will be able to put your picture on it, too.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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