When it came to the decision to go cashless, Mad Radish owner David Segal’s philosophy was simply to “take a leap of faith and do it.”
“It’s one of these things that five years from now, won’t even be a topic of conversation,” said Segal.
The founder of David’s Tea has opened two Mad Radish locations — a restaurant that describes itself as focussing on the salad as the main course, and serving it fast — in Ottawa, his hometown.
Neither location takes cash, and signs on both the outside and inside doors give customers advance warning that cash is not king.
Segal says the experiment is going well so far, and expects it to catch on elsewhere.
“I think most of North America is ready for cashless,” said Segal, noting that a debit or credit transaction only adds about two per cent to the cost of the sale.
There are other benefits to avoiding cash, he added, like having to get change when a cashier runs out of quarters in the middle of a busy lunch hour.
The security costs and concerns of handling paper money also outweigh its usefulness, said Segal.
Cashless transactions ‘more efficient’
“Cash is slow, cash is expensive to handle and cash doesn’t drive an efficient frictionless checkout experience,” said Jeff Guthrie of Moneris, the largest processor of debit and credit transactions in Canada.
Moneris predicted that by 2030, 90 per cent of Canadians’ business transactions will be electronic.
“It’s more efficient for the merchant — you can serve more customers in a shorter period of time,” said Guthrie, describing Ottawa as in the middle of the pack when it comes to how Canadian cities are shifting away from cash in consumer transactions.
Guthrie said ”everyday spends,” commonplace purchases like a cup of coffee or a sandwich, are the kinds of sales where an electronic payment system makes sense and doesn’t jar the consumer.
A boutique shopping experience — like, say, buying a pair of high-end headphones — also makes sense for going cashless, said Guthrie, since the customer appreciates a “cool” transaction to match the caliber of their purchase.
Shift already underway
But the shift away from cash is happening in the hum-drum world of everyday shopping duties, too.
Earlier this year, Loblaws stores in Ottawa banned cash at the self-checkout aisle. The company said that prior to the change,…