Let’s face it: Spending money in cash is not as popular as it once was. In today’s world, where technology paved the way for express financial transactions, credit card and smartphone payments are slowly becoming the dominant methods of purchase. Some companies however, like NewDealDesign (NDD), feel that by using payment methods which involve digital cash, we are kind of losing touch with reality in terms of how much we are actually spending. If we could retain the perks of digital money, but at the same time feel as if we had them physically in our grasp, would we spend it more wisely?
No more than a design concept at the moment — Scrip is a gorgeous copper-like oval coin that could transform the way how we spend money, as The Verge reports. Designed to be grasped in hand just like the remote control car keys would, this gadget is smooth on the bottom and stippled on top, with space for a tiny numerical screen at one end. The tiny bumps situated on top would act like a braille display, rising and receding to create numbers.
How would buying work you ask? Standing at the cash desk, you’d point the device at an NFC payment terminal, then swipe your thumb across its surface, as if shelling out bills off a wad of cash. Say you got charged $26. First, a $20 will appear. You swipe it facing the NFC. Then a $5 pops up. Once again, you swipe that. Lastly, you swipe a $1. The total cost would be automatically deducted from a refillable online wallet, its remaining balance viewable with a long press. Scrip could be loaded with spending money either via a specialized ATM machine, from your smartphone, or a bank account.
“It’s a digital-physical, or a physical-digital object that’s enabling transactions akin to cash. This project was almost a paradoxical effort to approach interaction design from the perspective of, let’s do something inefficient that people really do have to pay attention to, that’s quite literally trying to stimulate the pain receptors in your body.” explains NDD founder Gadi Amit.
If you’d find yourself with empty pockets, or rather a depleted “token” while hanging out at a bar with your friends, there is no need to panic. Designers got you covered with the possibility of passing each other money by tapping Scrips. There would also be a locking mechanism if the device got too far from the owner’s phone, as the devices would be paired via Bluetooth.
“Humans are still visceral, tactile animals. Plastic debit cards can create a smoke screen between people and their finances. With cash, you can feel with your fingers just how much money you have—or haven’t—got on hand.” says Amit.
It seems, there is a great deal of “fiscal education value” to the Scrip. The designers want people to be more self aware about their purchases, think of the value of money before they ever-so willingly swipe their credit cards. However, as conceptually interesting as it may sound, it still begs several questions: How do the designers plan to create the cash device, while preserving the cash’s tangible benefits (such as no risk of money disappearing via hack of glitch, or no log of transactions) and retaining the benefits of digital money? Wouldn’t people just swipe as fast as they could, so they can go about their day as soon as possible, thus not giving much second thought about how much they spent?
Over the past years, there have been numerous hardware startups that aimed to replace the wallet — like Coin, Stratos, and Plastc — but they have struggled to deliver on their promises. It will remain to be seen if Scrip becomes a smarter way of spending money, or end up collecting dust at the bottom of a drawer, defeated in terms of efficiency by the other methods of purchasing such as credit cards or smartphone payments.