When Your Flexible Friend Breaks

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Today Barclays Bank has had technical issues leaving customers unable to use their cards for spending or for withdrawing cash.  It seems this situation can no longer be classed as a one off as so many of us have suffered the same kind of problems from a variety of institutions over the last few years.

The debit card when initially introduced was hailed as the beginning of the end of the cash transaction.  How many of us now get paid in cash?  When was the last time you bought something other than a coffee or maybe petrol with cash?

Over the last 10 years or so I was using my card more and more to the point of no longer carrying cash.  As retail outlets stopped charging for using a card for small purchases there was no need for me to carry cash.

In the last year however with reports of financial systems going down and people unable to access their own funds I decided to change.  Now I probably use cash for at least half of my purchases, granted I take it from the cash machine but I feel better that I have the ability to spend, even if the system is down.

Many years ago when bank transfer payments were just coming in I remember being in a company where the bank system went down on payday.  At that time although inconvenient, there wasn’t the resultant problems that there are today.  Rent/Mortgage payments, utilities etc were not all paid by direct debit so there was less chance of punitive bank charges for your employers bank failing.

Nowadays, most people have bills set up for payment by direct debit, there are discounts for doing so.  What happens when the system fails and those payments don’t go through?  How many charges will be placed on your account automatically through no fault of your own?

Failures in the computing systems of big companies can cause the man on the street instant problems that may have long reaching effects.  Time to change things up and rake out the wallet that carries cash as well as cards.  Who knows when you might need petrol/train tickets or something else that seems so simple, until you can’t get it?

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