Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Digital Payment Methods for a Cashless Society

Since the onset of the pandemic, there's been a shortage of coins & a reluctance to use paper money due to the transfer of germs.  Combined with the increase in online shopping during lockdown, this has sped up the pre-existing race toward what conspiracy theorists deem a "cashless society".  This is both a real thing and a concept that's been overblown in its potential evilness by Bible thumpers who think it somehow portends the end of times & by older folks who are scared of change in general.

I'm not here to debate whether phasing out paper money is a bad thing--in fact I think it would be bad but I also don't think it's happening any time soon.  What I want to discuss are some of the new cryptocurrencies & alternative payment methods I've recently gotten into.  Turn back now if you think these cashless payments are of the devil.

lol See what I mean?!  Doin' too much.

Cash App

First is Cash App, a mobile payment service that allows users to transfer money virtually using an app.  However, I don't have a cell phone and still had no problem setting up an account on my Chromebook so anyone with a computer can use it.  It's got the benefit of being completely anonymous if you set your username to something other than your real name too.  (Mine is 'TS Kane' on the app; clearly not my real name.  You can change it at any time).  Your name is different than your cashtag, which is the thing you give people to send you money.  My cashtag is '$apphicomrade'.  You can find my full donation links at the end of this article as an example.

To get money out of your Cash App account, simply transfer it to another Cash account via the app or email, then withdraw via the Cash App Visa debit card ("Cash Card"), transfer it to any local bank or withdraw it from an ATM.  You can also invest in the stock market, buy/sell Bitcoins (see below) and even receive your stimulus checks with Cash App.  Dope!

Bitcoin & Bitcoin Cash

Bitcoin (BTC) is a decentralized digital currency created in 2008 with a wildly fluctuating value (1 bitcoin currently = $9,213).  The whole 'digital currency' concept is a lot more complicated than regular online payment methods, but you don't have to be a whiz in this subject to use them.  Like Cash App, you simply download the Bitcoin Wallet to your phone or computer & begin sending/receiving coins using your unique alphanumeric code.  Mine is: 18cwb3qFkGghVqqzNSX59EFypzzF8Dd7Vg.  There's also Bitcoin Cash which has its own benefits & drawbacks but is rather similar & has the same basic premise.  Both BTC & BTC Cash are operated through the same app--the Bitcoin Wallet.

Turning Bitcoins into real money is a bit harder than with Cash App.  Some merchants accept Bitcoin with more accepting it all the time but it's still not the norm.  Third-party brokers like Coinbase & Kraken can transfer Bitcoins to your bank account in a matter of days, or you can use the peer-to-peer method to sell them using any payment method you want.  Here's a full guide on how to do that.  You'll want to research it a bit first if using the P2P method to avoid getting scammed.  Bitcoin is completely anonymous when buying online; a net positive in many ways but also potentially negative if you get ripped off.  That's why there's the escrow system.  This all sounds overwhelming at first but once you download the Bitcoin wallet you're on your way.  You don't need to learn all the details unless you get into investing or making big purchases.

Non-Anonymous Methods

Paypal is a non-anonymous virtual payment method that's been around many years.  I've used my personal account successfully since 2005 without problems, though there are countless reports of Paypal locking/freezing peoples' accounts & preventing them from accessing their funds without reason.  This is unacceptable & makes me reluctant to keep money in my Paypal balance, so I just keep a debit card attached.  That way I can still use Paypal without letting them have access to my actual money.

The plus side of Paypal is that you can dispute a transaction with any vendor or customer who rips you off and, in most cases, you will be refunded if there's any evidence you didn't receive your item or payment.  I've only had to do it a handful of times over the many years I've used Paypal & have never lost a dispute.  The dispute process is much easier than dealing with credit card companies, banks or any of that.  It's all done online--no phone calls necessary.

Some other non-anonymous payment methods include traditional ones like checks, money orders & debit/credit cards as well as newer alternatives such as Google Pay.

What are your favorite cashless payment methods?  Are you for or against a cashless society?  Personally, I think it's best to keep eggs in several baskets when it comes to storing your currency:  a little cash here, a little money in the bank there, a little digital currency over there.  If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that things can change in the blink of an eye with our economy and nothing is promised...even the things we once took for granted.  Better to be prepared than caught out.

Here are my Cash App & Bitcoin links as promised.  If you found this article informative, consider dropping some $$$ in them:



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