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I can’t remember the last time I gave the kids an actual fiver.

Nick Reynolds posted an observation about interpersonal payments within family units.

“Dad, can you lend me a fiver?”

In a world with cash:

“Yes of course just let me dig through my loose change, there’s always some hanging about in the drawer”

In a world without cash:

“Oh, err, I’ll have to switch the broadband on… hang on a minute the wifi’s down, err… what about my phone… err, the Bluetooth isn’t working again I can’t sync our accounts together… err… where’s that contactless payment card,… err… it won’t let me transfer anything we must be over our limit… err… sorry… ”

[From “Dad, can you lend me a fiver?” in a world without cash | Nick Reynolds At Work]

Of course, Nick could always write out a cheque and have his son scan it with his phone which, given the comments in the Treasury’s recently released paper on “Speeding Up Cheques”, appears to be central to the government’s vision of a new and better Britain. I have to say I’m not the least bit interested in this mode of working. I have a cheque from British Airways in my bag right now: when I got it, I didn’t think “Oh goody, I can scan this with my Barclays mobile banking application — which, actually, I can’t — and thereby have it clear in three days instead of four”. I thought “why oh why didn’t they just send the money either to my bank account via the new-fangled Faster Payments Service (FPS) that we hear so much about these days”. They could have PingIt or Paym’d the money to me. They could have refunded it to the British Airways American Express card that I’ve used with them for a decade or so. But a cheque?

Anyway, back to Nick’s scenario. This isn’t how it works in our house because we are a modern family with mobile phones. And there is never cash in the drawer, ever. Therefore the exchange is rather different:

PingIt request “can you lend me a fiver?”


Er, that’s it..

[From “Dad, can you lend me a fiver?” in a world without cash | Nick Reynolds At Work]

In a world in which there is an immediate settlement system so that you can transfer money between banks in (effectively) real time, there is no need for cash even with the family unit. And there is no requirement for geographic coincidence so the desperate pleas for train fare home late at night can be actioned without  getting out of bed. Come on Nick. Get with the programme, Grandad, this isn’t the US or France.


  1. And the fiver is needed to … pay the pizza delivery man? Get the last train home? Buy a pint? All take cash, and possibly debit card at a push, but it will be a while before son/daughter can Ping (or Zapp) the money to them. We’re stuck with those four-letter payment methods beginning with C for a while yet!

    1. I just had a PingIt request from son who is stuck at train station with no money. He bought the train ticket with his debit card (which he has had since he was 13).

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