Please pay cash

Sanjiv Purushotham, Founding Partner, Bridge DFS

Sept 28, 2020

#Cashless #cash #payments #digitalpayments #digitallending #designthinking #strategyconsulting #digitalfinancialservices #banking #retailbanking #covid19 #fintech #startups

Photo by cottonbro on

At Bridge DFS, the Inspiration phase of Design Thinking is a constant companion. We’re always curious about trends that are shaping our industry as well as the larger context of the society that we serve.

I live in a tiny little microcosm that is at least an hour-and-a-half’s commuter ride to the business district. When the pandemic struck, like many, I stayed home. Initially by choice. It wasn’t as difficult as it has been for some. The amazing boardwalk on the sea, the phenomenal green canopy of the ancient forest, the little village market, online shopping and probably the best medical system in the world mitigated the chaotic situation around.

Like many, I feared using coins. I wouldn’t go to the village for my favourite kopi (thick black local coffee brewed in a “sock” and lightly sweetened with condensed milk). Just because Mr. Goh (name changed) says “Please pay cash”. But soon enough the other stalls in the village food court started displaying QR code stickers.

I loved that. What I had always predicted. Digital would replace cash. Out came my phone and I was making QR code payments with wild abandon. And as the weeks went by, I realized that I wasn’t as enthusiastic anymore. For one, I still paid for kopi with coins. And after a morning run in the tropics, my phone screen was moist and wouldn’t work. People around had adapted back to cash again. Spraying their hands before and after each transaction.

The QR code placards are still there. Not quite so prominent. Cash payments are in full swing. My card bills are down because the fancy downtown outlets don’t get my dollar anymore. I am also much happier supporting my local stores for shopping. Plus, it saves me the bother of the eternal wait for the online delivery truck.

Purely my view, but it seems as if a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform payments has been partly wasted by poor design. But there’s still hope. At Bridge DFS, we are inspired by these observations about how humans behave. We use this inspiration to ideate and help our clients implement outstanding financial services experiences for their customers.

At Bridge DFS ( we focus on designing digital journeys in the area of financial services – payments, lending and money management. We base our work on several decades of practitioners’ expertise in digital financial services coupled with the Ideo-based Human Centered Design (HCD) methodology.

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