Coins …

Remember coins?

These funny round bits of metal that we used to use to pay for things. Now superseded by tap’n’go since corona virus killed the use of cash – and possibly never to return.

I can honestly say we havn’t used coins or notes since the start of lockdown,  I still have the eighty bucks I got out the Friday before the lockdown started.

Since the start of lockdown we have, of course migrated to cashless transactions even for the most mundane items, that and using the automatic payment terminals.

But what will we do when we can go travelling again?

Yes, it was a pain to end up with a handful of forints, kuna or ringgit at the end of a trip, but along the way they helped smooth things, leave tips for waiters, pay for parking (being asked to download a Croatian language parking app in Pula and link it to an Australian debit card was most definitely in the too hard basket).

When you travel you inevitably use coins, if only to avoid international transaction charges – while one might pay for a seventy euro dinner with a card, two coffees for four euros is a step too far.

Yes, you can get these international traveller cards spruiked by the banks – basically you prepurchase a whole load of pounds, euros or what have you and they put it on a card – just as you would go and buy foreign currency or travellers cheques back in the old days.

However, they’re not really the answer – the choice of currencies is limited – no ringgit, rand, forints or kuna to name but four. Some banks, such as ING or Citi offer debit cards with no international fees including atm fees if you put enough through them every month, but I doubt very much that an informal car minder carries a card machine – he wants five or ten dirhams cash to make sure that no one breaks into your car while you’re off enjoying yourselves.

And that’s it – in countries with large informal economies we’ll probably still have cash, notes and coins, and when we go travelling again we’ll have to start using cash again.

Samuel Pepys records that during the plague in London, shop keepers would provide a dish of vinegar for people to drop payment in and to receive their change – perhaps we’ll end up spraying notes and coins with hand sanitizer as a matter of course …

About dgm

Former IT professional, previously a digital archiving and repository person, ex research psychologist, blogger, twitterer, and amateur classical medieval and nineteenth century historian ...
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