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Is Cash Disappearing? Does Anyone Still Use Paper Money?

paper moneyRight now I have about a hundred dollars in cash in my wallet because I was planning on shopping at a cash-only location thrifting some furniture. Strangely, having this much physical cash in my pocket feels foreign to me in our modern world. It turned out though, that they didn’t have what we needed, so the cash is sitting in my wallet still,  like a big fat green lump.

It wasn’t always this way, of course. I operated sans bank account for years in my youth, accepting payment at my jobs in cold hard cash, or by cashing my paycheck the day I got paid with a money order to pay bills. Cash was king, so to speak, and I always felt like it was my birthday when I got a big wad of cash in my hands.

Boy, times have changed. I still remember, vividly, the first time an ATM machine became available in Albuquerque when I was a kid; I must have been 10 years old or so (the first ATM appeared in 1969, apparently, but we didn’t see one until about 10 years later). It was a very big deal, being the first technology and money combo (believe it or not, we all used to have to write down the numbers on credit cards to process payment or swipe them through a carbon system; there were no electronic processing services at most stores).

Now in Philly, we have far fewer ATMs than we did 10 years ago, since most of us use our ATM cards to pay for purchases (even the vendors at my farmer’s market takes cards for payment). The only cash I usually carry is a few dollars in the car to distribute to the homeless when I see them.

Still, we are far away from being a cashless society. The Next Web, an article by Jon Norris states:

“According to Visa, in 2012 card payments accounted for 32.8 percent of worldwide consumer spending, while cash accounted for 38.3 percent (cheques and other payment methods made up the remainder).”

There are many arguments for a cash-free society presented in the article; particularly the germ issue (ew). Apparently, a recent study showed 87% of bills were found to be carrying bacteria that could make healthy people sick.

But, of course, the poor will be the ones that pay literally if cash continues to decline in popularity. Bank fees can hurt a family living on the edge of poverty. Hopefully a better system will be in place when cash disappears for good.

In the meantime, I’m thinking about wiping down that cash in my wallet with some disinfectant. Because seriously, EW.

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