Sunday, August 20, 2017
When I was young, people didn't speak much about payment methods. They were certainly never considered worthy of news headlines.
Cash and cheques were what everyone used. There was nothing newsworthy to be said about that fact of daily life.
Cards were still in their infancy. I remember being one of the millions of young people to receive an "Access Card" - unrequested - through the post. I believe my unasked for Credit Limit was £250 - but it could have been £500.
Anyway, many of we students treated our newly-minted credit as an urgent-to-spend windfall, sometimes even withdrawing cash on the card at the end of the month to pay the previous months bill!
Yes. We were just as daft as people are today.
Fast Forward.In 2017, all news media are jam-packed with stories about payment methods.
Suddenly, the public seem to care.
Or do they?
In the last week alone, two news stories have done the rounds, including appearing on the BBC website, proclaiming that separate "research" has found that 1) 10% of young people only use cash once a month and 2) the average member of the British Public - you and me -carry less than £5 in cash on their person at any one time.
Now, personally, I believe these research findings are total nonsense - but my purpose today is not to rubbish them ( I have done that already elsewhere!).
No, my query today about this well-publicised research is, "Who Cares?"
What does it matter to Joe or Josephine Average that "10% of young people only use cash once a month"?
Since other research has found that over 70% of the UK public don't understand percentages, it appears that less than 30% of us are in a position to even comprehend the research finding, let alone marvel at the astonishingly interesting revelation.
Similarly, why would anyone care that Mr & Mrs Average carry less than £10 between them? Is that more or less than would have been expected? Would £3 have been utterly flabbergasting? Would £8 have been considered disgracefully excessive?
In short, what could have been worthy of a bigger headline than "under £5"?
By the way, researchers didn't bother to explore such "interesting" subjects 30 years ago, so no one can tell us, for example, how much cash "The Averages" were carrying in 1987.
The truth, of course, is that the vast majority of the Public have no interest in this subject matter. Nor do any academic researchers have such exotica high up their project list - or, indeed, on it at all!
No. In reality, such trivial research is almost invariably funded by anti-cash vested interests, seeking to demonstrate, in a rather pathetic way, that cash is completely unfashionable and that, on average, there is very little use for it.
I, of course, could produce dozens of statistics to refute this silly anti-cash posturing.
However, the Public would be equally disinterested in my stance. They simply don't care.
What we DO care about is the endless manipulation of news headlines to push and pull us in one direction or another.
100% of us are surely against such manipulation, even if we do not understand quite how many of us that is!