Cash is King in Waterloo!

10 May

It had really been a very pleasant meal. A number of old colleagues from PwC and IBM days had gathered together to celebrate a colleague’s retirement anniversary – he’d retired 5 years ago and very sensibly thought one celebration wasn’t enough.

But time had passed and carriages had to be summoned – so the time had come to pay the bill for the food (Trevor, our host and the quinquennial retiree, was stumping up for the wine).

Now I should explain, in the light of what follows, that this was a highly educated and analytical group of people – a high proportion of Oxbridge, a couple who were running or had run a software business, a senior guy from IBM’s Analytics offering, and a futurologist. By way of parenthesis, I should also say that the futurologist had spent part of the meal explaining to us why his prediction that ‘internet shopping would never take off’ had been so far off the mark.

Anyway back to the bill. This seemed to be a classic situation to try using Paym, the UK’s new mobile payment application available to most people with a bank account and a mobile phone, which allows you to make payments via your mobile.

‘Why don’t we use Paym?’ I said

‘What’s that?’ ‘Never heard of it’ ‘No need, I’ve got the cash here’ were the remarks that followed – a rather deathly combination of zero awareness and zero interest when the concept was explained.

Undaunted, I ploughed on. I might add I’d registered for Paym with my bank, HSBC, when it was launched a year ago, and had been on the lookout for an opportunity to use it.

I had Trevor’s number on my mobile. So I logged into the HSBC website, pressed the Paym button, and put in the details. I pressed ‘Confirm’ – the screen cogitated for a few moments and generated an error message. It had some zeros and an eight in it – which I assumed meant Trevor wasn’t a Paym user.

Meanwhile the twenty pound notes were whizzing round. I could fondly imagine that if the bill (£35 a head plus tip, so two twenties did the trick) had been for an odd amount Paym might have been of use – but somehow I doubt it.

Paym’s issue of course is ubiquity – like the spread of the mobile phone, it’s only useful to you if the chap you want to pay has Paym installed. Mobiles have taken off because of the lack of a close substitute. Paym’s problem appear to be – cash!

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