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Friday, June 21, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Digital dollars

Ten thousand years ago, our ancestors would have never dreamed of paying for dinner with little pieces of paper.
A hundred years ago, our great grandparents never thought about purchasing concert tickets with plastic cards.
Twenty years ago, our parents couldn't have guessed they'd be buying movies from eBay using Internet-based accounts to settle the debt with an overseas supplier.
And now, I can't believe where ecommerce has gone. PayPal now has an iPhone application, Twitter users can acquire funds from friends and co-workers through Twitpay and online banking has made handling digital money all too easy.
The Internet is home to millions of vendors and companies selling anything and everything. The problem with the Internet is trust. I don't trust a single site or user of eBay with my credit card information, which is where PayPal comes in.
PayPal is "the safer, easier way to pay" as the site claims, and allows users to pay for goods through the site keeping their banking and credit card information safe. The downfall and dangers to this site, along with all ecommerce, is the ease of use.
When you have your credit card linked up to your PayPal account, its easy to get carried away, it's easy to believe you have more money available than you actually do and its very easy to get behind on your bills.
Shopping online requires only a few clicks, a password and sometimes a confirmation e-mail. It never actually feels like money is being spent. The balance from one account gets lower, another account gets larger and a few days later a new video game arrives in the mail.
Without the feel of money, the handling of cash, I think it's much easier to get into to debt. Whenever I have cash, I'm much more careful with how I spend it, I can watch as a 10 or 20-dollar bill leaves my pocket, and how much change comes back. With a credit card, it doesn't matter the cost of something, just swipe – or enter the numbers – and it's yours.
During my first job back in the early 2000s, I would actually receive a paycheck. I'd have to take it to the bank, cash it and then have currency to prove I washed dishes for 20 hours. Now, with both of my jobs I have direct deposit, and can't remember the last time I've visited a bank – or had lots of cash around.
Direct deposit has made it so money holds almost no value to me, and with online banking, I can manage those digital dollars whenever and wherever I find it convenient.
I hardly ever handle mass amounts of cash, it's been years since I cut a check and even longer since I sent a bill through the mail – a great advantage to online payments and Internet banking. Just imagine how many tons of paper we would save if everyone switched to e-payments.
I've switched every one of my credit card bills, car insurance and all banking statements to e-mail only. It's a small part to help the environment, but it makes a difference not receiving five bills every month.
We've come a long way since trading sea shells and cows for goods, but with the advancements in all the technology, banking has become simple as has purchasing, but just be careful how you spend, before you know it, you'll wish we were still trading farm animals.

E-mail: matt.mosher@ubspectrum.com


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