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My Three Week Challenge: Spending Time with Lincoln, MasterCard, and Venmo

Kirsten Vaughan |

The multitude of payment options can be overwhelming and sometimes I blindly make the choice to use cash instead of my debit card. I feel like many customers in that I don’t know why one method of payment is better than another. In an effort to better understand which circumstances drive customers to use certain forms of payments I decided to challenge myself by exclusively using cash, exclusively using cards, and exclusively using mobile payments for one week each in hopes of identifying the benefits a world beyond cash could provide

As anticipated, I discovered the obvious disadvantages of being limited to cash: longer lines, more trips to the ATM, and a heavy coin-filled wallet. Driving across the Tappan Zee Bridge is a nightmare in itself, waiting in line at a tollbooth only made things worse. Purchasing gas was an extended process too–not only was my time spent at the gas station nearly doubled; I also had to make a prearranged trip to the ATM just to have enough cash to make the purchase.

KV post

Source: Kirsten Vaughan

The following week exclusively paying with cards was easy. Maybe it’s because I use cards so often, but I didn’t make any obvious observations that week–to me it was status quo.  I didn’t have to plan out my day around visiting an ATM and I got to earn points through associated reward programs.

The third week, in which I tried to pay solely with my mobile device, brought on an entirely new challenge. Mobile payments are growing, but to date they are not as widely accepted as cash and card payments are. With the exception of Starbucks, I didn’t come across any merchant accepting mobile payments. In these cases I stuck with using Venmo, a growing P2P payments app. It is not accepted by merchants but is accepted by my friends.

This limited acceptance forced me to “spend socially.”  Instead of paying merchants myself, I would have a friend pay for me with whatever method of payment she preferred and then I would immediately pay her back using Venmo. Making the transaction on my phone was easy, but the process was inconvenient.

Through this experience I am left with the question: What will drive the cashless revolution? Sure, waiting in line is annoying and rewards are nice, but is this enough for every person to jump ship and go cashless?

Topics: Mobile, Payments Strategy

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1 Comment

  1. PSV said on September 4, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Reply

    Rewards are just the first step.