Sunday, January 14, 2007

What kind of dollars?

One of the first things I noticed when I arrived in NZ was how seldom actual money was needed. Instead, people pulled out their ATM cards, swiped them, entered a PIN and they were done—without ever touching a coin or note.

In NZ it’s called EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale), but the same thing is in many countries under other names. It’s very convenient for cash purchases, and also for credit card transactions: We enter a PIN and don’t have to sign a receipt. For some reason, this can’t yet be done in Australia.

New Zealand is now going one step farther by making it possible to make a credit card payment in a tourist’s home country’s currency (like US dollars, for example). The system tells the user the exchange rate being used, the conversion charges and still gives the option of paying in New Zealand dollars.

Why would this be good? Say you have a specific budget on how much you can spend. It could be very helpful to know right then and there what the charges will be in your own currency with no surprises when the credit card bill arrives.

Touring New Zealand is becoming better and easier all the time. Packed your bags yet?


lost in france said...

In France we have the PIN code Visa, Mastercard and bank cards. I use mine all the time!

It always amazes me, however, how many French cling to their checkbooks and use checks to pay for everything, including dinner out.

Arthur Schenck said...

I almost never carry cash anymore, and I haven't written a cheque in a long time, either. Electronic transactions are much more convenient than carrying money.

When I first arrived in NZ, I often saw people paying for groceries or whatever with cheques. But I can't remember the last time I saw someone use one in a store--it'd have to be years ago, I think.

Evil European said...

They had a similar thing when I was living in Denmark..the Dankart. Swipe, pin and thats it. It was actually quicker than using cash and the black and red terminals were everywhere.
They have tried the same thing in the UK, but the terminals are flimsy, they take forever, and you still have to wait for a receipt.

Arthur Schenck said...

Welcome to the blog, EE!

These cards are definitely easier than cash. Receipts are generated with transactions, but a person is free to leave without it. The till receipt is sometimes separate, but these days they're usually the same so it takes no longer than a normal transaction.

Many companies (like taxis and pizza delivery) are adding mobile EFTPOS so you can pay for anything, anywhere with a cash card. The next big thing, though, is paying by mobile phone, but that's another subject altogether.