Paper Money Is Taking The Shape of Old Barter Ways

It’s almost a year since I stepped into a banking hall. You know what this means, I haven’t had any stream of consistent cash-flow into any of my several accounts for so long! This entrepreneurship journey is not a bed of roses like they all told me. Especially seeing as I’m an Entrepreneur in Training.

I chanced upon this post from David Okwii concerning banks and the Fintech bubble. Reading it made me realise my current net worth aside, I’ve never had more peace of mind. It drives me nuts when I have to queue in the bank for hours to make a simple transaction, query or a happy-guilty withdrawal.

We live in the 21st century so why do we still do this to ourselves? The ATM was the greatest invention at one point but it’s about time we moved onto the next global phenomena. Seeing as the queues from the banking halls have found their way out into the ATM slot machines. Standing in those queues makes some of us joke about charging the bank for every extra hour we wait in line. Hours we would much rather waste watching The 100, HBOs Silicon Valley or anything else.

In my home town, the times when you need to use the ATM or access a counter in the banking hall is when the entire populace seems to have an interest as well. For instance, the back to school period or at the end of the month when pay slips are in the air. Most of us also still pay our water and electricity bills from time to time at the bank.

Many banks are rolling out internet banking and integrating mobile money onto their platforms. The norm for them is messages apologizing about their systems being inaccessible due to maintenance issues. Making peer-to-peer(P2P) bank transactions a nightmare. Which is one of the reasons why mobile payments and virtual currency are king. PesaLink in Kenya is a step towards efficient money transfer to ease the mayhem characterizing P2P bank transactions.

PesaLink is a P2P product offered by Integrated Payment Services Limited (IPSL). IPSL is a fully-owned subsidiary of Kenya Bankers Association (KBA). ISPL is to put in place the platform upon which PesaLink and other digital innovations will run. Inter-bank interactions definitely make life easier for people managing bank accounts.

The convenience of mobile money transfer has made life so much easier. Life in university would have been different for me without MPESA. Definitely not for the better. The user interface and experience especially when paying bills could definitely do with lotsa revamp.

You see, I went to a school far away from home and did not have any immediate close relations nearby. Hence any time there was an emergency, money was wired to me via MPESA. The only time I’d go to the bank was when I needed to pay school fees or make over the counter transactions. Otherwise paying bills and at times buying goods and services was via MPESA. I still had to withdraw cash from the mobile money agents into my wallet. Since how else can one move around and pay for most other things?

Why do we still insist on using paper cash? Seeing zeros on our screen may not give as much joy as holding or throwing wads of notes into the air. Though I can’t help but think we’re stuck a new rut. Refusing to embrace a more convenient and seamless payment and trade system. Paper cash smells good-the new notes that is-but it is a ticking clock that needs to complete its cycle. Else get a notable substitute.

For instance digital currencies if properly managed and executed could make our lives a lot easier. Of course, this is not something that can happen overnight. Think back to the days when the world used to do solely barter trade. I doubt people in those times foresaw all these different measures of wealth we have today.

If today I was to tell somebody to give me a flat screen TV for a goat. They’ll probably be like…

Gif Source

Flashback to 6000BC and this was an ingenious form of transaction. Made everyone’s lives easier.

It is high time we globally embraced digital currency. We are all talking of how Fintech solutions (i.e computerised financial services) would make our lives easier and payment processes convenient. One way to further their penetration into more markets is to encourage the use of more digital cash. The best part about all this is that it would be cheaper if not free to make transactions! Having cash in digital form of course poses a lot of risks. So as we also need to develop systems to handle security protocols.

Printed paper cash won’t completely fade away, after all people still do barter trade to date. What we need are transcendent new better forms of transaction. So you can send 1 million dollars from Kenya to say Liberia in microseconds without second thoughts. And not worry about running low on funds when you are on holiday or away from home.

Humanity has been to the moon and back and is now making strides to go to Mars. So it is only a matter of time before we fully embrace a new global digital currency. A new medium of exchange, unit of measurement and storehouse for wealth.

My prayer is we do not get stuck in the pilotitis stage-the state of existing in perpetual pilot stage.

“Think national and implement local to overcome pilot fatigue.”-Berhane Gebru

For now cash stays king!

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