Opinion: I have always said 'cash is king'

Opinion 22/05/2020

The following is an opinion peice by Leah Panapa.

While I don't walk around with wads of cash in my purse - no lotto winner here - I like to have a bit of the folding when I'm in a group situation having dinner or drinks so when it comes time to split the bill I can hand over my share in cash.

I think it's easier than everyone pulling out plastic or one person paying and everyone owing them. There have also been many times when we have been somewhere and the cash register has 'gone down' and the call goes out 'does anyone have cash', and just like that we get propelled to the front of the line!

But I also know in this advanced technological world, paying with cash is on the decline.

Now we live in the world of Covid19 never before has it been more prevalent that cash is not wanted. Contactless, paywave, all the desired forms of payment, and for very good reason, retailers favour these sorts of transactions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, it surprised me to see a story of a restaurant owner in New Plymouth who has reopened under level 2 say that the odd customer that has paid with cash had become an awkward rarity. Rarity I get, but 'awkward'?

He went on to say that even though he is happy to accept cash, there is now a stigma and people were apologetic for using it. Stigma? Come on!

The banks say there has been a reduction in the number of withdrawals from ATMs and in branches since the virus hit, however as we are now at level 2 there has been a pick up with withdrawals.

As a country we have also been early adopters of cashless methods, like eftpos, which we embraced and in fact were using it earlier than many other parts of the developed world. International researchers have long said that New Zealand is well placed to go down the cashless route, but there are still many parts of society that still prefer to use cash, either because they have not mastered on line technology or because they simply don't like the idea of dealing with online rather than in person.

I personally am happy with a mix of online and cash, and do not believe there is a 'stigma' or 'awkwardness' in handing over a couple of notes to pay for your purchase, and remember, the next time technology fails and everyone is standing around the till frustrated, I might be the person heading to the front of the line to pay.