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Customer Experience and Design

Choose Your Own Adventure? Only if You Have Cash

Mobile Payments: Choose Your Own Adventure

Life is an adventure and weekends are meant to embrace the new…as long as you are carrying cash.

Spending time in the community and randomly stumbling upon fairs or carnivals is one of the great joys of life. But without cash, these joys can quickly turn into frustration.

In the past few weeks, I can recall at least three times where my spontaneous adventure was turned into a joy ride through the city looking for cold hard cash.

Mobile Payments: Choose Your Own AdventureAdventure One – The Museum

We loaded up the family in the car and drove to the museum. Once the museum was in sight, it was impossible for my 5-year old daughter to contain her excitement. There’s the museum!!! Right there!!!

We pulled into the lot and were pretty excited that we arrived early enough to score rock star parking…until we saw the sign:


We decide to double check and ask the attendant, “Do you only take cash?”

“Yes, but you can go to the lot down the street. They take credit cards.”

We drove to the other lot and they did, in fact, take credit cards, but only at a walk-up machine. So we had to pull over and block traffic while we paid with our credit cards. I felt like the person holding up the line at the grocery store by paying by check. Except I wasn’t.

Adventure Two – The Parade

Everyone loves a parade! Again, we loaded up the car dressed in festive gear and covered in sunscreen. We left early so we wouldn’t have to walk a mile. We were pretty proud of ourselves as we approached the parking lot, until we were notified:


And we turned around and drove about 2 miles until we could find an ATM, pay the fee and turn around to sit in 20 minutes of traffic where we ultimately parked about a mile from the parade route.

Adventure Three – The Corn Maze

I live in Missouri where the fall is an explosion of color. We decided to head out to a farm to pick pumpkins and get lost in a corn maze. We drove down one country road after another until we reached our destination. We walked up to the kiosk where they informed us:


We, of course, didn’t have cash, but we did have a check! Otherwise, we would have been heading down the road for a few miles to get to the local gas station.


So, Now What?

Who is at fault here? My family, obviously. How many times do we need to go through this same Groundhog Day type situation before we start carrying cash?

I’m guessing, many more. We just aren’t cash people…and more and more people are trending that way.

According to a report from Bankrate, 40% of Americans carry less than $20 on them (with women being more likely to not have cash), 9% carry no cash at all. Almost half of all Americans are carrying little or no cash on them.

“Consumers prefer to pay with plastic, debit or credit or some other type of mobile technology,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for

In a situation like this, you can either change the person or change the path. The data is showing that consumers are moving away from cash. The path needs to be changed so business can meet consumers where they are. They are already at your doorstep, but they can’t come in.

According to Javelin Research,

“plastic cards purchases comprised 66 percent of all in-person sales, with nearly half of them, or 31 percent, made with debit cards”

With players such as Square, PayPay, Google and Apple, it’s time for the small mom and pops to take a step toward the future and make the path easier for potential customers.

Getting consumers in your door is one of the biggest obstacles for any business. Once they get there, don’t leave them sitting on the doorstep holding onto their credit cards.

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