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If we are going to replace cash with more efficient electronic alternatives, we must have practical solutions to hand for certain niches not suited to digital revolution.

Since I am a wage slave of limited means, I live well away from the areas of Woking that are home to lawyers and bankers. This explains why some of the supermarkets near me have a deposit system in operation. If you want to use a supermarket trolley while shopping, you have to unlock the trolley by putting a one pound coin in a latch mechanism. When you return the trolley after shopping, you latch the trolley back on and your coin is returned. They do this so that people will not steal the trollies and melt them down for valuable scrap or simply push the shopping back home in them and then dump them in the canal. If you think it’s amazing that people do that, what’s even more amazing is that many people forget the pound coin when they return the trollies.

For we are now told that every year £20 million in pound coins is left in supermarket trolleys

[From Why do we leave £20 million a year in supermarket trolleys? | Stoke Sentinel]

Personally, I find the whole system hugely annoying, for two reasons. First, because I never have a pound coin and, since I normally shop at Waitrose, never think to go and try to find one when I’m going shopping. Second, because it’s one of those annoying use cases that people present in order to argue that there are practical barriers to a cashless society. So imagine how happy I was to discover that my wife and her friends have an ingenious solution: they have fake coins on their key rings!


The pink disk is the same size and shape as a pound coin, and the latch mechanism can distinguish it from coin of the realm. So my wife is never without a means to unlatch a trolley, even as she revels in cashlessness. I don’t see what is wrong with letting people use trollies but only once they have produced suitable identification documents and registered the identity of the trolleys that they can be named, shamed and prosecuted to the full extent of the law should the trolley be found in the Basingstoke canal, but I am happy to concede that my wife’s interim solution is practical and cost effective.

In less polite circumstance (e.g., Australia) I was asked a similar question, but about strippers. I am told that it is customary to give them banknotes during their performances. In an e-cash world, how might they prosper? If we put to one side the rather obvious solution of a Bitcoin address tattoo, I am sure that the “casino solution” will prevail. Just as in a casino you use your card to buy chips, so in Peppermint Hippo you will use you card to buy rectangular vouchers in convenient sizes that are made from durable and washable polymer. Or, as we will soon call them in the UK, banknotes. You can give these to the strippers and they can cash them up at the end of the day.

There are no barriers to cashlessness.

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