On this blog we have talked about cash free restaurants and airlines, and cash free parking meters, but never about the impacts of a cash free economy on public safety. However, over the past few weeks, we have seen a few news items that touch on the idea of how cutting the use of cash may also cut crime rates. It is a “freakonomics” type of idea and one we think is really interesting.
In one of his strongest public comments made to-date questioning the debit card provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, today House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Barney Frank (D-MA) made the following comments in an interview with Reuters Television(note, the relevant parts of the interview start around the 2:40 minute mark).
“I do think it [debit card regulation provisions] has to be amended. I do think the way it is written, the full cost recovery for financial institutions isn’t there. So I would not repeal it totally. I would like to have it amended, so it’s clear the financial institutions that are administering this get the full cost. I think the way the law is written now that’s one flaw, that they may not be able to get that.”
As we mentioned in a blog post back in July, bridges across the country have stopped accepting cash and coins at the toll booth and have begun charging drivers’ toll fees electronically. Now, one of the most iconic bridges in the world is contemplating “crossing over” to cashless, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
Innovative companies like Payoff.com realize that if you can make a challenging topic like money management more enjoyable, everybody benefits. Consumers benefit by fully engaging, learning and improving their financial skills. Financial services companies benefit by having more responsible customers who better understand the products they are using, which in turn generates greater customer loyalty.
At Visa, we talk a lot about the secular shift away from cash and checks to electronic payments as being fundamental to our business. Our announcement with InsurCard naming Visa as InsurCard’s preferred brand for the delivery of payment for insurance claims highlights the continued opportunity to displace cumbersome paper-based payments.
Think using cash-only would simplify your life? As SmartMoney reporter Anne Kadet found out firsthand, a cash-and-carry life is not so carefree. Kadet recently wrote about an experiment to see what it would be like to go two weeks without her debit and credit cards and rely solely on cash. Some of her experiences:
Difficulty getting cash: Kadet had to have her sister write her a check for cash, but then came across difficulty cashing it— even at her sister’s bank. Ultimately, her sister had to cash it and give her the money.
Inconveniences accessing her paycheck: “The clerk… was happy to cash my paycheck. He also took a 1.8 percent cut.”
Waiting in lines and running around town to pay bills: “Without a bank, I had to run around town all afternoon.”
Trouble renting a car: “The car-rental outfit that agreed to take my cash also required a $500 deposit, two pay stubs and two utility bills.”
Online shopping challenges: “I felt silly mailing $7.61 to an online retailer for a paperback…And when my book (inevitably) failed to arrive, a follow-up call went nowhere.”
Ron Lieber of the New York Times was pitch-perfect in his piece over the weekend about the need for improving America’s financial literacy level (In College, Learning About Money). Lieber writes, “An education is one of the best defenses against financial flimflam, but many students never learn the things that help.”
He’s right on both counts. Just 4 states require high school students to take a one-semester course in personal finance, according the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. The rest of us leave high school, go to college or get a job and start learning about money through the school of hard knocks. That’s a painful and costly way to learn and, for far too many, means trashed credit scores that take years to repair.
The postal service is facing tough budgetary times—as anyone who’s ever experienced the frustration of having a book of stamps become obsolete in the face of a postage rate increase can attest. As recently reported, the venerated paper processing institution is turning to electronic payments to help alleviate its financial woes, becoming one more convenient location for purchasing a network branded gift card.
It makes sense. As highlighted in the story, gift cards are one of the most popular gifts to give and receive—and they are also one of the easiest to pop in the mail for long distance gift giving. By offering network-branded gift cards, like Visa Gift Cards, the post office is delivering the convenience of a gift that can be used just about anywhere, regardless of the destination of the card.
While most people are out celebrating the holidays, come Thanksgiving you’ll find my team hunkered down in front of a bank of computer screens 24/7. No, they’re not online doing their holiday shopping but rather monitoring Visa’s authorization system. That’s because the holiday season is when VisaNet, our global transaction processing network, faces its greatest demands as millions of people head to the mall or their favorite online retailers, relying on Visa to handle their payments.
Bloomberg Businessweek spent the last weeks of 2010 preparing for its first special report of 2011, meeting with Visa Head of Mobile Innovation, Bill Gajda, to discuss where mobile contactless payments are headed, what it will take to get there and how Visa is helping bring consumers, financial institutions and merchants together.