No more notes | 

Covid 19 has turned us into a cash-free society

Most of us have forgotten what actual money looks like

Most of us have forgotten what actual money looks like

By Roisin Gorman

Now I know how the Queen feels. Since March, the number of times I've handled cash could be counted on one thoroughly laundered hand, so technically I'm already behind the famously note-free monarch, who only gets the folding stuff out for her Sunday church donation.

In a year which has binned cultural norms, the life of the cash-free, contactless payment seems to have sneaked up. It was underlined for me recently when my husband asked if I had any change. Not only did I not have any coins, I couldn't remember the last time I'd had any.

It struck a chord because I used to be that annoying person holding up the queue counting out enough change to buy a week's shopping and pay a deposit on a holiday. You could have weight-lifted with my purse. If the national mint was short of coinage, all they had to do was bring in my handbag for the spillover.

Now I don't even buy a litre of milk with actual money, and I wonder if I'm being nudged away from notes according to the death of cash conspiracy.

But if I am so are millions of other people.

Never mind chip and pin, we've embraced tap and pay since the arrival of Covid, and it's not even tapping any more. To avoid all physical contact, I was advised in a shop to do a sort of wave and pay. Rather than Coin Woman, I now look like I'm sneaking up on the pin machine.

After finally embracing a payment app on my phone, my card only gets trotted out for the big supermarket shop. In a restaurant - remember them? - I can include the tip in the payment, and even the window cleaner accepts bank transfers.

Thanks to the explosion in online shopping during lockdown, I've got so lazy I now give up on any purchase I can't do with PayPal because it means having to hunt down my purse and the exhausting punching in of the 16-digit card number.

Since March, Ireland has hit a high of nearly €2bn in card payments and over half the transactions in the UK are now with plastic.

It's predicted that by the end of 2020, Sweden will be cashless and Australia isn't far behind it.

It's been predicted that Covid will mean the end of cash, but the death of notes has been exaggerated for years. The Bank of England says there's £70bn in cash sloshing about the UK economy, twice what it was 10 years ago. That's a lot of dodgy oligarchs with money to clean.

Reports that the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised against handling notes because of Covid are also wide of the mark.

It encouraged hand-washing after touching cash, which is a David Icke-length away from the WHO teaming up with Satan to control our lives.

That's the main conspiracy behind the end of cash. Banks close branches and ATMs to increase profits and make actual money less convenient to use, so when we use cards more that's evidence that we're embracing digital accessibility. It's known as nudging, but maybe we're not that hard to nudge.

Then, after we've been herded towards exclusively using card payments, we can be monitored with location and surveillance techniques.

Outrage at this is often shared on Facebook, the biggest experiment in data gathering since the first funny cat video was shared. And if anyone is interested in my location, it's largely at home.

At this stage, the Queen doesn't just use more cash than me, she also gets out more.

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