INVESTORS SAY “Cash is King” in uncertain times. But, 100 plus days into COVID-19 self-distancing, it’s clear that paying with cash has lost its luster.
The first time I realized I hadn’t been using cash during our pandemic lockdown was a few weeks back when I went to use a coin-operated car wash. I had no coins in my pockets. None in my car coin tray. None anywhere.
Usually, I keep a few coins in my pocket just for those times, like at the car wash, when cash is what’s needed. But, I’d donated what coins I had to a good cause. Then, because I haven’t been paying with cash, I hadn’t gotten any more coins as change to replenish my supply.
Since COVID-19, I have deliberately not used cash. No cash payments means no coins as change. To make life easier for the cashiers, who take on a huge burden to provide service to us all, I’ve elected to pay with debit or credit everywhere I can.
It’s obvious in the lineups at the grocery store and other retailers that others are not paying with cash either.
After I realized I still had the same $100 in my wallet as I did at the start of our pandemic self-distancing, I decided to survey others on Twitter to see if they had been using cash or not too.
On my Twitter poll, 63 per cent of respondents hadn’t used any cash since pre-pandemic. So, I’m not alone in abandoning cash in these troubled times.
And since then, except for the car wash, the only place I’ve paid cash was for a visit to the Kamloops Farmers’ Market, where cash was the only option.
The Bank of Canada has noticed that we’re all going cashless too. A couple of weeks ago, Bank of Canada issued a statement encouraging retails to continue to take cash, because for some customers, it is their only payment option.
Back in 2015, a survey by the Bank of Canada found 51 per cent of transactions were done with cash. Pre-pandemic, I was probably the same. Groceries, liquor, and restaurant meals are things I typically previously paid for with cash.
At the end of this pandemic, I wouldn’t be surprised if our cash transactions have dropped from 51 per cent down to only 10 per cent or 20 per cent.
Long before the pandemic, I visited The Netherlands in 2019. Many stores there had signs stating they would not accept cash at all. Is a cashless society where we’re heading too?
As much as we’ve stopped using cash during COVID-19, I hope we never lose the option to pay with cash. It’s an option that many prefer and those without debit cards require. It’s a convenience that many appreciate. It provides privacy, convenience and portability.
But until we’re out of the woods, I’ll be paying with plastic. And probably still digging for change the next time I go to wash my car.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.