Today’s Wall Street Journal (March. 19, 2017, page R1; online version is here) printed an article I wrote. They asked me to be part of a debate on “Should the U.S. Retire the Penny and Nickel?” I took the “no” side. This is a follow on article from the piece I wrote for TheConversation back in August 2017 (see the original piece here) that advocated the same idea. Because of space limits the Wall Street Journal edited down my piece. Below is the unedited version: Continue reading
Credit card fraud is a major problem, which costs billions each year. Banks and credit card issuers have tried a number of ways to reduce the fraud. Recent examples are the rollout of cards with computer chips. Cards with chips are more secure for in-person transactions. Unfortunately, chipped cards are no more secure than older cards without a chip for remote transactions, such as paying for something over the phone or buying something on the Internet. Continue reading
A world without cash seems wonderful at first glance since it is convenient and fast. You don’t need to withdraw dollars or euros ahead of time. You don’t have to worry about money being lost or stolen. Paying for things with your phone is a breeze.
Many countries around the world are steadily shifting away from cash. Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden have already largely embraced a cashless society. The U.S. is also steadily making the move, with people holding smaller amounts of cash.
However, the recent string of natural disasters and security breaches at major financial entities exposes a huge flaw in this trend: When the power goes out, telephone lines shut down or account information is stolen, it is impossible to use ATMs, credit or debit cards or mobile payments – no matter how rich you are.
In other words, giving up cash increases the chance of the kind of economic catastrophe that results when people can no longer easily trade for the goods they need and want. The solution to this national security issue is simple: bring back the currently maligned large denomination bills like the $500, which was discontinued in 1969. Continue reading
The number of international travelers is soaring. Many travelers need different currency as they arrive in new countries. In the past, travelers using an ATM, credit or debit card were simply charged for purchases and withdrawals in whatever currency the locals used. For example, U.S. travelers to France were charged in Euros when they used their credit card in Paris.
Recently, instead of being simply charged in the local currency many travelers are being asked if they want to pay in their home currency. Companies offering the service call it “dynamic currency conversion.” For example, some U.S. travelers to France are now asked if they want to complete transactions in dollars.
The change is occurring because ATMs and credit card terminals now have the ability to check where a card was issued. Then international travelers can be asked whether they want to use their home currency for their transactions. The question seems innocuous, but agreeing to use your home currency in a foreign land can inflate the cost of every purchase. Continue reading
We’ve been talking about society’s transition to a cashless society for a long time, but it begs an important question: Can stores and other retail establishments refuse to take your dollars and cents? As odd as it sounds, this is not hypothetical anymore as a small number of stores and industries have stopped accepting cash and allow payment only by credit card, debit card or via a smartphone app. Continue reading