Cash or Credit – Update

We have been discussing the movement away from cash and towards credit-only transactions through a series of blogs.

Recently, the New York Post reported that Amazon is working on a payment system that will eliminate the need to hand over cash or a credit card.  You’ll just have to hand over your hand.  Amazon is said to be testing scanners that can identify individuals’ hands to pay for a store purchase.  This system could be in place in Amazon’s Whole Foods supermarkets by the beginning of 2021.

The Amazon system does not require physical contact with a scanning surface.  Instead, it uses vision and depth geometry to scan the hands of shoppers, with Amazon prime accounts, and then charge the purchase to their credit card, already on file.

This wouldn’t be Amazon’s first attempt to reinvent shopping.  A previous experiment involved the company’s Go stores that eliminated cash registers and allowed customers to use their phones to complete transactions.

However, push back from governments continue in the form of laws banning cashless stores.  As a result, Amazon has started accepting cash at the Go stores.

While Amazon’s new project to use scanning technology does not eliminate the cash purchase option, governments continue to legislate against cashless transactions.  Recently, New York City officials have targeted ride-sharing and meal-delivery apps, as well as face recognition for building entries.

All of this effort is intended to blunt the advance of technology on those who are unable to use it due to financial circumstances.

All comments and or suggestions are welcome.

Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA