Day 1 – Friday 1st September 2017
I empty my wallet with the few notes that I actually carry, to only have my Visa Cards and identification. Admittingly it felt a little strange.
Mid-morning I head to my local barber for a haircut, who does accept Visa Cards, and in conversation while I was paying she explains that the majority of their customers still pay with cash. Her reasoning was that for smaller transactions, Sri Lankans prefer to use cash feeling it is more convenient and faster. I agree with her statement that there is still a preference for cash and observe this personally across many of my own interactions. However, I can’t help but point out how quick and convenient my Visa Card transaction was compared to having to provide exact change (assuming she has the correct change which is sometimes the case), reconcile the cash and then deposit the money at the end of the day. Contactless transactions speed up the transaction process even further, so I leave the store having committed to discuss with her local banking partner to install a contactless NFC terminal and return in 3 weeks…
For lunch, I find myself having to plan and think more about where to eat that will accept my Visa Card for payment. I head to our local Italian place and speak to the manager during lunch who also says that majority of the customers pay with cash. She continues to explain that for her business the cost of managing cash is expensive not only for customers but for her own supplier purchases which gets me thinking…how many local businesses use digital commerce to pay their own suppliers?
Now usually our domestic staff will pick up our laundry however neither of them have a card or account to pay electronically, so I head to the laundry mat myself to make the electronic payment. Traffic is busy and I am stuck for over 35 minutes which is normally a 10 minute drive, a good opportunity to think about how I can get my staff a Visa Card for future purchases.
For transport in Colombo, when not using our car, I am able to leverage both UBER and PickMe to get around and so far it’s been fast, convenient and cashless.
Dinner is at a local hotel celebrating a Spanish food festival with friends. When it’s time to leave I book an UBER which arrives within 5mins and I’m home.
Day 1 of being cashless was successful all though a lot of fore thought was needed,it also was an insight into what’s to come.