A year without cash - Day 166
No notes, no coins. Overcoming common challenges, testing the boundaries in different countries and amongst different social expectations.
I’m now one hundred and sixty six days into my year without cash and quite frankly I’ve almost forgotten what a banknote looks like in my fully cashless state. I’m pretty much mobile all the way these days – in fact I so rarely open my wallet up to take a card out I don’t know why I carry it around with me. For comfort I guess.
However my quest for a year without cash almost came unstuck last night when walking home from a solo night out in Tunbridge Wells whilst my better half is ‘away with the girls’. The thing was being a little bit ‘under the influence’ I really fancied a cheeky doner kebab and so walking past the Royal Express I was drawn in and ordered.
Salivating a little whilst watching the kebab being skillfully prepared, we then came to the moment of truth – payment – and get this they don’t take cards in the shop – only CASH!
What does one do? The kebab is there waiting to be eaten.
The kebab shop owner not releasing it until rightly he is paid. “I have no cash” I told him. “There’s an ATM across the street” he told me.
Noooo! It can’t end like this – I’ve been doing so well. But I really want the kebab.
And then digital technology and apps came to the rescue. The shop owner told me I could order on line with Just Eat and click and collect my kebab. Genius idea. ‘Cashlessness’ saved!
Although I had then to go through the somewhat lengthy process of downloading the app, completing registration etc – with the help of the shop owner’s borrowed spectacles it all worked out in the end.
So we’re all good and the quest is still on despite my Friday night moment.
But thinking about it the only other difficulty I had was Turkish related. I went with my family to Istanbul over Easter – somewhere I’ve been countless times on business given its importance as a cards market – but never explored properly.
Whilst confident about being able to use cards pretty much everywhere, we almost came unstuck with Istanbul’s tram system which uses a digital ticket but you can only load value in the vending machine by inserting cash. Quite bizarre. So my wife bought us tram rides whilst I paid for boat trips, taxis, restaurants, coffees, drinks, cocktails, hamman massages, baklava etc etc by card.
I’m now 1,005 transactions in (quite a lot I think) with still the same mix of service providers.
Monzo (Apple Pay) still accounts for 48% of all my transactions, Natwest – my main bank at 29% (all variants) and my Amex Red card coming in at 12%.
So at the halfway point now I feel very confident that I’ll make it – despite the challenges of Japan to come in October.
I’ll keep you posted.