Drawn off topic: Mayor Nenshi and the death of cash

Post Date: Sunday, September 16, 2012

Globe and Mail illustrator and journalist Anthony Jenkins interviewed Mayor Nenshi earlier in 2012 on the non-municipal issue of "the death of cash". The result is some amusing musing about the disappearance of the penny and the predominance of plastic and electronic payment options. What follows is an excerpt, but I recommend reading the full interview here.

The penny has recently been abolished. Will you miss it?

I don’t think I’m going to miss the penny. I think people will get used to it, but I don’t know how I will ask people for their thoughts any more.

What are your thoughts worth now?

At least two pennies. I guess we’ll have to go to a nickel.

How much cash do you have on you right now – change and bills?

I don’t have any change in my pocket. I usually throw it into the cupholder in my car. In my wallet, I have 700 pesos from a recent conference in Mexico, $50 U.S. from a recent trip to Houston – and absolutely no Canadian cash.

Remind me not to ask you to lunch!

I have always been like this. I’m a guy who never has any cash in his wallet. I’m a debit and credit kind of guy and, if I suddenly have to use cash only, I find myself scrambling in my cupholder.

Is change a bother?

The problem is I tend to jingle it in my pockets. When I’m in public or making speeches, the people I work with have made it very clear that I am not to have anything that jingles in my pockets. They take away my keys and any change and they usually take my wallet, too.

Sounds like robbery without a gun.

They are usually pretty good about giving it back, but I do notice one staff member is wearing pretty nice ties these days.

In other countries, Japan and Australia to name two, cash is less prominent. Debit and credit and digital transactions are more the norm.

I have always been a gadget guy. I’m interested to read about some of the stuff that is under way right now. Ebay and PayPal were doing a pilot project where it is Bluetoothed to your phone, but your phone never leaves your pocket. Your photo shows up on the till and they determine if it is really you and it just gets charged to your phone. Interesting. I don’t know how well it would work, but I’m willing to try new technology...

Read the complete interview (including the surprise ending!)

- Posted by Daorcey from Mayor Nenshi's team
- Illustration by Anthony Jenkins