The King Has Lost His Crown

By Jeremy Gove, Information Systems Administrator,
JS1It all started standing in a Pharmacy line in Delaware this weekend. After our honeymoon in Lancaster, PA, my wife and I drove the 30 or so extra miles to visit with my family in my home state. Due to a series of events, I found myself filling a prescription outside of my home area. I stood there, card in-hand, hearing the words no person ever wants to hear: “I’m sorry, sir, but your card’s been denied.”   I knew it wasn’t for insufficient funds…or at least that’s what I hoped. Soon after, I received an email from my credit card company. My account had been flagged for fraud. They were aware of my trip to Pennsylvania, but not my pitstop to Delaware, and as a precaution, in case my card had been stolen, had stopped the transaction from going through. Yes, I admit it was inconvenient. Yes, it was a bit unnerving. Yes, it took me all of an extra 3 minutes to log into my online account and confirm the transaction was correct so I could free up my card. But at the end of the day, if my wallet HAD been stolen, I would have been very, very grateful.

But look at it from another perspective. Fraud protection wouldn’t have helped me one iota had my wallet been full of cash. When working in Marketing and Sales for Bank of America, the then-largest financial institution in the US, we had a motto: “Cash is King.” Even though we sold multiple products and services, the one we pushed the hardest was the Balance Transfer. It was a way to pay off credit cards, to consolidate debt, and even to pull cash off of a credit card without paying a massive (almost always over 20%) Cash-Advance fee. “Cash is King!”   is the mantra we heard one of our VP’s chant again and again. But then something happened. The mortgage bubble burst and the world began to rapidly change. Due to rapid reform, legislation, the CARD Act, and a mini-Wall Street collapse, Balance Transfers, and cash, moved to the back burner.

Cash was no longer king.

Cash, the king, had lost his crown. That point was illustrated to me anew this past weekend. In our world today, we are moving closer and closer, faster and faster, toward the reality of a cashless society. In the financial realm at large, cash is no longer king, and here are a few reasons why:

Cash is bulky and takes up more room in our wallets. It takes time to count. It causes lines to move slower and transactions to take longer.

Cash is insecure. If a person steals a wallet full of cash that money is as good as spent. A person can’t call their bank and place a hold on their cash.

Cash has no bearing on a person’s credit score. In fact, NOT using your available credit can hurt your credit rating as much as OVERUSING your credit card.

Cash is being phased out in several types of transactions. Most, if not all, car rental companies have a policy against paying in cash for a rental. It’s impossible to order an item over Amazon or anywhere else over the internet without a credit card, debit card, or some kind of online payment system like PayPal. Cash also can’t be (or definitely shouldn’t be) sent via mail because, as we mentioned before, it’s very easily stolen and misused.

I say this last one tongue-in-cheek, but it’s also very true. There’s nothing more suspicious than being paid with a pile of cash (worse yet, if it’s bankrolled and sealed in a plastic bag). Understanding the suspicion of an all-cash transaction, the government has processes in place for banks to separately record and report all cash transactions over a certain size. Why? Because all-cash is how the crooks do it.

I’ve said all that to say this: We can do better.   Will cash ever totally go away? No. I believe cash is here, for the most-part, to stay. But will cash always rule? No, I’d venture to say he’s already surrendered his crown. And with that in mind, here in our area–your area–we’re looking to take advantage of this change. Wouldn’t it be great to swipe your card every time you need to pay a fee at one of our court offices? Wouldn’t it be convenient to be able to pay a fee or ticket online? Wouldn’t it be easier to set up re-occurring charges on an auto-pay system where you could “set it and forget it”? Yes, cash may, in one way, shape, or form be here to stay, but credit, not cash, is the one who will ultimate sit on the financial throne. Why not prepare for it and place Evans County ahead of the curve? We are. Cash may not be king. He may have lost or be losing his crown. He may be going the way of the dinosaurs, but we refuse to let Evans County go down that path. We’re embracing our past and honoring where we’ve come from, but also looking toward the future and trying to make this area a great place to live, work, and raise a family…one small change and advance at a time.