It was bound to happen at some point. Today, I finally did it. I forgot my wallet at home. Usually, not that big of a deal, right? Well unless you‘re just about to board a plane; I haven‘t felt this insecure in quite some time. But, should I really be that worried?
Let‘s face the facts: I have successfully used my iPhone and Apple Watch (with Apple Pay) to buy breakfast on the way to the airport, „pulled“ a bottle of water out (and a Snickers bar) of a vending machine, and got through the security gates at the airport using the QR-code on my Apple Watch.
So far, so good.
No cards, but especially – no ID or passport
The thought of not having any cards or money on me, scares me a little. It’s just not very practical. At least today I’m on my way to Germany. I don’t think I should have a lot of trouble finding a restaurant where I can pay contactless, right?
I do know, that I definitely need to be able to show my ID-card when requested to do so. Border control could ask for my ID or the police. Yet, apart from the odd trip to the United States in the last few months, I’v never really had the need to show my ID card anywhere.
Travel within the European Union is fairly easy, and hardly requires you to show your ID. However, this does not mean that you can simply go anywhere without one. The fines for not carrying an ID card vary per country, and can be anything between 40-200 Euros.
Let‘s simply hope I’ll „get away with it“ in the next two days. I think my chances are quite high.
Besides, I always save a copy of my passport and ID-cards in my Evernote account (just in case I lose my bag, wallet or get mugged). It might sound a little paranoid, but it is the one thing that calms me down, at the moment. If anyone would like to see my pass, I will simply need to pull up the scan I made a few months back.
The hotel could be a challenge
Checking into the hotel might be a challenge. Luckily the room has been paid for already, we use a (virtual) travel agent for that at GANDT Ventures. However, I do know I‘ll need to show them some form of ID to get my room keys.
I guess in a few hours we‘ll know if they‘ll accept my scan as a enough proof of me being the guy in the picture.
Furthermore, I guess the hotel could also be a welcome savior. Just in case my „contactless payments“ don‘t work, I can charge virtually anything I need to „survive“ (I get Hangry sometimes if I don‘t eat, enough). In the event that I cannot pay my bill directly at the desk, they should be able to issue an invoice that I can pay within a few days.
I am sure, I‘m not the first nor the last customer that shows up to the desk without a passport or their wallet.
Update – the hotel was not prepared for „the new digital age of mobile payments“
Okay, I think it‘s fair to say that most payment terminals support contactless payments, right? Well, except for the ones at the Maritim Hotel in Düsseldorf (Germany).
After a nice (lengthy) chat with one of the receptionists, I was handed my keys. Yet, when the question came up „if I wanted to have breakfast at the hotel tomorrow morning“ (for 19 Euro, not included in my booking), and if so, „how I would like to pay for it.“
As it turned out, the hotel in which I had stayed on numerous occassions already, did not want to send me a simple invoice for the amenities. I had to pay them up front and in cash or by credit card. Tough luck that I was stranded in a foreign country without my wallet. The fact that they had my home address, company card on file, and passport number did not change a thing.
Of course I have to say that I could have „fought“ for a little bit of compassion and customer service. But, I decided to take the easy way out and focus my (negative) energy on a new solution. I was slowly getting „hangry“ and needed to find something to eat, soon.
Good thing the local Rewe supermarket was still open and I could pay using Apple Pay. Voila, problem solved.
Why do I feel so uneasy?
To be honest, I don‘t know why I feel so uneasy; I am sure, everything will be fine. As long as my phone has enough juice and my debit card has enough credit on it, I should be able to get through the day.
I actually try to use as little cash as possible and 9 times out of 10 I use my phone to pay. But, (nearly) being abroad makes me a little nervous. I know how things work in Switzerland, I know at which shops I can pay with cards and where I need cash… That is probably the biggest difference.
It is a strange feeling, though. We’ve become so accustomed to paying for things in cash or with cards.
I recall to have been asked by border control: “How much money do you have on you? Do you carry a sufficient amount of cards and cash to get around?”
Of course I know, they mainly ask because they want to find smugglers who carry large quantities of cash on them. But, I couldn’t imagine what would have happens, had I answered the question with: “Not a single card, not a dime in my pocket sir – But I always have my Apple Watch with me, anyway.”
I could get used to this
I’m sure, I’ll come to terms with my cashless, cardless life at some point. That is, if our society wants it to be so. I feel more comfortable paying with my iPhone than living in an autonomous Amazon Go world; a world in which CCTV determines how much we pay for what, and we have zero control over how and for what we are charged.
I could surely live in a cardless world. It would simply be one item less I‘d have to carry around with me. To be honest, I love paying with my Apple Watch. It‘s fast, and has been very reliable. There is nothing better than overtaking (random strangers) at the self-checkout counters in my local supermarket. I get such a rush from my „tap-tap, blink, take my stuff and go“-Apple Watch shopping sprees.
But, this time around it‘s a little different. Not too fond of unplanned experiments in foreign countries. Oh well, I can’t really change it, though and I am sure it is going to be fun guys, real fun.
PS: I‘ve just set a reminder in my calendar for the upcoming 4 trips I‘ve already got planned. As much as I love a challenge, next time I surely do want to bring some cash and cards.
And don‘t worry about me, as it turns out the local Rewe supermarket supports contactless payments and if that doesn‘t work, I guess there‘s always a McDonald‘s or Starbucks somewhere close by.
Also published on Medium.