We hear from many sources that the cashless society will be here "next week". Apart from Singapore which is very close to its taxation office getting everything legislation permits, other countries are a long way from it. Australians still have cash in their pockets purely because shops are not investing in appropriate technology.
A test was done with "equipment" provided by Westpac. The bank app had Mastercard debit and Visa credit cards linked to it. At the first coffee shop the fast pay worked via the Mastercard. The second payment using the linked Visa showed only $1 for a $24.95 bill. Linked Mastercard solved the problem.
Another payment made at the next shop worked with Visa. Shop owners and assistants for the most part had not experienced immediate payment yet and certainly did not have the new technology.
Westpac will go ahead and launch its payment app whether shops are ready or not. Terminals will be set up across the country. It does not look good for Westpac: test users said the sticker on the phone was too big and caused errors with no-contact payments. The same problem occurred with the Commonwealth bank's trial last year.
The banks say they only need two years to perfect the system. This seems overly optimistic. Debit card contactless payments have been a success. For banks to rely on similar credit card payments is risky for them because they will pay for the mistakes.
Apple is staying out of the race and allowing Android to adopt no-contact payments. This may be a wise decision based on prevailing inconsistencies. PayPal is already launching its quick payments system as it does not want to be left behind.
When cashless societies finally come to fruition it may improve the efficiency and speed of purchases, but one thing you can be sure of: there will be no way of hiding transactions. Governments will legislate to get their hands on bank information that is now confidential and everyone will pay every bit of tax they owe, even millionaires.
Society by Ty Buchanan