In Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier is mostly on the run, with his desk in his backpack, looking for fascinating topics and people. In this city chronicle he speaks to everyone and is interested in all areas of life.
More and more retailers prefer to free themselves from the eternal burden of the cash register, which has to be counted, filled with change and protected from thieves, by only paying with a bank card.
“We do not accept cash in bars or our restaurants,” warns Time Out Market, the Eaton Center food court where I recently dined while reporting on an arcade that no longer accepts cash at its counter.
“We direct customers to a machine that accepts banknotes to buy tokens for our machines, but we no longer accept change and we no longer have a cash register,” explains Emmanuel Sévigny, the owner of the Playbox Center.
According to my report, I bought shoes for my young son at Décathlon, the French sports chain that has stopped accepting cash since it opened.
Montreal's other high-end food fair, Le Central, on the corner of Saint-Laurent and Sainte-Catherine, uses the more polite phrase “contactless payment” to say the same thing, ie: no cash.
When the Station 10 hair salons opened in Montreal's subway stations four and a half years ago, they were card-only.
Brands and locations that have eliminated cash include the Bell Center, Videotron Center, Bromont Ski Resort, David's Tea, Jack & Jones, La Ronde and so on.
There are so many “post-cash” companies that simply listing them would probably take up the entire space of this column, a column I'm currently writing while sitting at my favorite coffee shop near my home, which of course isn't the case is accepting cash.
“Cash represented 5% of payments received and required 20 hours of counting and administration work, not to mention the need to collect change. “It was no longer worth it,” explains Adrien Allard, the owner of the Aube bakery-café.
The new bakery in Aube found it easier not to have a cash register. Photo Louis Philippe Messier
Another disadvantage of cash is that it can be easily stolen.
The closure of a small business is often carried out with just one employee. There is then a security risk.
The Metro Morgan supermarket, not far from the Aube bakery, locks its door on Rue Sainte-Catherine after 6 p.m. to make life more difficult for potential robbers who are after cash from the cash registers.
So we find ourselves in a strangely mixed time, with some small businesses only accepting cash – my hairdresser, for example – and others only accepting card payments.
Since I received a “smart watch” for my birthday and my cards are stored on it, I go without a wallet.
Apart from my driver's license and my Opus card, I carry them around on my right thigh for free. With a small roll of banknotes for potential “cash only” transactions, I could be in business anywhere. But if one day I have a social breakdown and find myself on the street, I'll find it less funny.
Near the Fugazzi Pizza on Ontario Street, which doesn't accept cash, I meet Jonathan Charbonneau begging outside the Caisse Pop Hochelaga.
“It's terrible to leave out all the people who, like me, only have cash to pay and don't have a card or a bank account,” he laments.
As a beggar, Jonathan Charbonneau suffers doubly from the normalization of card payments. Photo Louis Philippe Messier
The sudden change in payment culture affects Mr. Charbonneau doubly.
“Not only are there companies that just want the card, but the people who come by all tell me: sorry, I only have cards,” he explains.
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