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Black Consumers; Is Cash a Safer Option?

Courtesy of cooldesign

Courtesy of cooldesign

Is it time to go back to cash? In this age of technology and electronic payments the value of money has not changed. However the vulnerability of money has increased exponentially. I say it all the time but you’re about to hear it again; Black people don’t play when it comes to money! So again I ask; Is it time to go back to cash?

At least one nation is considering the move to a completely cashless economy. Denmark is about to become the world’s first cashless nationThat nation’s government is pushing to free some stores, restaurants and gasoline stations from accepting cash payments at all. The government is hoping to get rid of the option to pay by cash by as early as 2016.

But is that a wise move? That is Europe not the U.S. And the potential for fraud is just as great there as it is here. So why do it?

Danish banker association, Finansraadet, claims that going cashless would save retailers money on security, in addition to time when counting money at the end of the day. But is that saving enough? Has the electronic payments systems become secure enough to make this move safe?

Maybe not.  There is fear that with electronic transactions, the risk of fraud will also rise. Those opposed to the cashless economy have cited the unfortunate case of  another European nation, Sweden. That nation has the highest number of bank transactions per person in the European Union. That nation has also seen fraud double in the past 10 years.

Last year, Juniper Research forecast that payments by smartphone would hit 9.9 billion by 2018, with one in five phones acting as digital wallets. But is that the right move for American consumers, or African-American consumers?

Black consumers possess buying power in $1 trillion dollar range. We have the ability to affect the U.S. economy with our buying choices and spending practices.  Is moving to cash a way to send a message to both the retail and technology sectors? Can we demand better security? We should.

But lets be real for a minute. We have seen that the use of electronic payments is only marginally safe in the U.S. We have extreme problems protecting our electronic payment system as seen by hacks at Target, Home Depot and most recently Sally’s Beauty Supply. The math of the situation is not on the side of the consumer. And executives of the payments and retail industry do the math. What math? The math that tells them that it is still cheaper to pay off fraud claims than it is to invest in safer technology and systems to protect our money. The AACR has written about this before.

Like most consumers black people patronize small businesses. And although we hear a lot about the really big data breaches we don’t hear too much about the small ones. Small businesses are probably more vulnerable to data theft than larger companies. It is estimated that for every major data breach that hits the news there are dozens, even hundreds, of smaller breaches that are rarely heard of. According to the National Small Business Association , 44 percent of all small businesses have experienced a cyber attack, with the average cost of the incident costing just less than $9,000. That’s nearly half of all small businesses. Did you hear about the data breach at the bakery down the street? Probably not but your payment information may have been lost. Did they report it? Do they even know they were hacked?

Another danger to electronic payment is the infamous card reader or skimmer fraud. Card skimmers are nearly invisible devices that attach to ATM’s, gas pumps and other places where you swipe your card for self service purchases. The skimmer records your card data and PIN number for cyber thieves. Card skimming is a major problem in the U.S. and around the world. Estimates of funds stolen has reached into the tens of millions of dollars in the U.S. alone.

Is cash the answer? Can it make some commerce safer? Possibly but in the age of electronic commerce using cash for some transactions is almost impossible. Shopping online is one obvious answer. Electronic commerce is fast and convenient. But there are  situations where cash or a written check is better and more secure.

Cash may be the answer in the age of repeated data breaches and electronic fraud. Black consumers may wish to consider the $200 rule. If an item is less than $200 then pay cash. Limit your use of credit and debit card to larger purchases. Keep at least that amount in your wallet weekly. Use that cash for buying gas, groceries and other need now items. This practice will limit your exposure to possible credit or debit fraud. If you decide to move to cash you should also ask for new credit and debit cards. Ask for a card that contains the new EMV chip. Getting new cards will nullify old payment information in retailers computers and reduce your vulnerability to fraud.

Keep in mind that cash is still the dominant form of payment even today. Black consumers today should raise their awareness of how cyber crime works and how they are vulnerable. Using credit and debit cards regularly raises your chance of eventually being a victim in a data breach if you are not already.

Now you know.