Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cashless v. Cardless

The cashless v. cardless debate in Nairobi is so far non-existent. First attempt to pay by card for my pre-paid SIM card and for 2 vouchers to charge it was unsuccessful. KES 5oo minimum (about 6$). Commentary: “Why do you want to pay cad if you have cash?”. Well, why not? It’s my own damn business how I wish to pay. Yet, submissively, I pay KES 300 cash.

Attempt number 2: taxis. Taxis are not only not metered, but you can also bargain the rate like crazy. Needless to say, most of them look semi-legit and could easily be any single one of us driving a cab and charging arbitrary rates. Clearly, cash only.

Attempt number 3: pay for accommodation. Fruitless as well. After two heavy cash withdraws from Barclay’s (at least I saved on bank fees), I pay my rent:

IMG_9981The last time I saw this much money in cash in any currency was probably before the last devaluation in Bulgaria. Late 90s? Early 00s?

They just don’t have a card terminal here because blah blah blah. I stopped listening. Good thing the ATM is close by. Travel advice for Nairobi – don’t walk around with more than $100 cash, let alone $500.

So far, so good, but I have an unpleasant feeling that this cardless inconvenience is going to persist.

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