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Tackling a World Beyond Cash – One City at a Time

Cindy Meyer |

Although I focus on the use of payment cards in the B2B space every day, I am also an avid believer in using my own plastic wherever I can.  While there is always some cash in my wallet (and that amount is usually quite small), I make a point to use my MasterCard wherever I have the opportunity.  For my business travel, that is expected — and is even part of our corporate expense policy — but my biggest frustration occurs when I travel for pleasure.  I expect to be able to swipe my card for transportation, meals and entertainment, but when that can’t happen, my travel is no longer pleasurable.

A recent trip to New Orleans was a big disappointment from a card-use perspective.  Although I had been there on business a few times over the years, this was my first vacation in the Crescent City.  We planned to do all the things that typically top the list in this newly renovated city, but I was stymied at every turn when I tried to use my MasterCard

• The cab that brought us from the airport to our lodging for the week had the ability to accept cards, but couldn’t make his machine work that day—and I was in the cab for a good 20 minutes after we arrived at our destination giving him every chance to process my card

• The cable car only accepts cash, or a day pass—which must be purchased on the car with cash.  The long lines for this unscheduled mode of public transportation were a testament to the inefficiency of cash.

• Café du Monde for coffee and beignets—cash only. They gladly point you to the ATM near their entrance, but cash doesn’t work well when you are out for an early morning run and want to stop in for take-out for the rest of the family— I didn’t have my ATM card with me because I expected to use my credit card.

• Preservation Hall—cash only, and that was after standing in line for the standard hour plus to maybe get in for the first showing of the evening.

Although New Orleans is statistically better than average when it comes to number of merchant locations for a city of its size, I guess it still lives up to its other nickname, the “Big Sleazy”, when it comes to just taking cash at popular venues.  Looks like I’ll have to focus on more out-of-the-way venues to do my swiping…

Topics: Payments Strategy

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