Brother, can you Bump me a dime? Is technology changing the dynamics of panhandling?

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013

Is technology changing the dynamics of panhandling?

The changes in technology are affecting us all. Even those down on their luck-some suffering-and the our moments in our lives that intersect with the unfortunate. A recent encounter made me think about this.

I was walking through a train station to go to Starbucks for coffee. A older man, wearing worn clothes asked me for change.  I said I didn’t have any. A phrase he might hear from most people he asked, but for me, it was very true. Thanks for technology, the money to purchase my coffee was on my phone. So was the money for other services like movie tickets while my bank apps, credit and debit card handle the rest. In fact, the same day, a client mentioned that the owner of a shop that duplicates keys yelled at her for not having two dollars in cash to pay for his service instead of a debit card she normally uses for everything.

If we now live in a world where more than 50% of people now have smart phones, debit cards and PayPal, so I doubt this “cash disconnect” is limited to the interaction between me and one homeless man. The cashless society. Will it change the situation of the homeless? Or else, how can you ask people to spare what people don’t often have anymore, physical cash and change on hand?

Or will having a smart phone or a transactional device like a credit card swipe adaptor become the new price of panhandling?

Brother, could you Bump a dime?

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