Spotlight on InfoComm 2019

Cash Was King—But Now It’s Going Away. What the Heck Happened?

More merchants are eliminating the option of allowing customers to pay with cash. Cashless commerce fans: what am I supposed to stuff my wallet with now?

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Cash Was King—But Now It’s Going Away. What the Heck Happened?

Many merchants are banning cash in favor of debit and credit card payments.

There are times in my life when I can relate to the extinction of dinosaurs, whether it’s trying to place my order using a McDonald’s kiosk or the shift to mobile tickets as the default for Ticketmaster, even after a massive outage crippled fans during a Red Sox-Yankees series and U.S. Open tennis matches.

The latest example of me thinking I was born 30 or so years too late came when I read about the increasing devaluation and elimination of cash for merchants across the U.S.

Suddenly, those Hollywood scenes where Andrew Jackson helps a movie star get the best table in a crowded restaurant are becoming history as businesses decide they don’t want your crinkled $20s.

“Cashless commerce is popping up around the country, particularly in restaurants catering to a younger crowd, which is likely to leave home without any greenbacks, or even a wallet, and instead choose to live life with a smartphone and a few credit or debit cards attached,” wrote Bob Sullivan in a recent blog post for Acorns Grow Incorporated.

“Cash sure seems to be on the ropes,” while cashless commerce is on the rise. Yeesh.

Cash Is Still King to Me

I was recently surprised when the train station where I park my car to head to Fenway Park got rid of parking attendants in favor of making people who park there pay on an app.

I’d just become used to handing the parking fee to a person, putting the ticket on my dashboard and going on my merry way. I don’t like the idea of having a string of $6 transactions on my debit or credit cards, but that seems to be the way of the future—or, I guess, the present.

A couple of months ago, my cousin offered to “Venmo [me]” the money for a Sox ticket and I must have had a look on my face like he was speaking a foreign language, because he quickly said he’d head to the ATM and grab me the cash for it instead.

It sounds like maybe he made out on that deal, since cash is going away, anyway.

OK, cashless commerce isn’t ALL bad, but…

To be fully transparent, I buy and sell things all the time using PayPal so I’m not afraid of all non-cash transactions.

I certainly make the most of online shopping, especially around the holidays, a big change from the days when I’d walk the mall trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone on my list. 

But…I still prefer to mail checks rather than pay bills online whenever that’s an option. I guess you can call me Tyrannosaurus Craig.

And, as much fun as it is to get a gift card, there’s still nothing that beats having someone hand you a crisp $50 or $100 that feels like it just came from the nearest Mint. Why am I the only one who likes this? Is something wrong with me?

I won’t even get in to the security concerns that come with relying on credit cards and online payments, but I can tell you I’ve had enough cards replaced because they were compromised to know it’s still an issue.

Now that I’m starting to come to grips—slowly—with the decline of cash, can someone please explain to me why I need to invest in bitcoin and what I can do with it?

It’s only a matter of time before my Red Sox follow the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lead and replace my beloved bobbleheads with an online version I can only pay for with cryptocurrency and never actually bobble.

About the Author


Craig MacCormack is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience covering local and national news and sports as well as architecture and engineering before moving into his current role. He joined Commercial Integrator in January 2011.

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  • Michael Wight says:

    Apparently these companies have not read what is printed on our paper money: “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private”. Refusing to receive cash as a means of payment can be considered a Federal offense. Then there is the folks who’s job has been replaced by the machines – what’s the overall impact on their lives and the economy. My son-in-law was working for a local truck stop and was confronted by a patron that was upset regarding the price of an item they wanted to purchase, stating that they could get it from a grocery store much cheaper. He responded noting that this was a convenience store not a grocery, and that he was in fact paying for the convenience of getting the items here instead having to drive somewhere else, not necessarily paying for the item itself. It seems that we continue to run down a path where we displace workers in lieu of making life easier, but in the long run, are we really?

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