Each year, cash transactions are becoming less frequent in our tech-driven world. I mean, who walks around with paper cash these days? With apps like Square Cash and Venmo, most of us are passing money around digitally. But that can make it harder to keep track of your spending. There’s nothing quite like the pain you feel as a crisp 20 leaves your hand to keep you from overspending.
This idea, that the physical aspect of transactions helps us to conceptualize our spending is the central idea behind a new digital wallet called Scrip. As companies like Amazon and Apple make financial transactions as simple and invisible as possible, the cutting-edge company New Deal Design (NDD,) has created a transaction device that makes every purchase FEEL like a weighty decision.
Bringing the tactile experience back to financial transactions is a big part of Scrip, but equally as important is a focus on slowing people down before they spend. That 1-click purchase button gives you no time to think through your decision to spend. With Scrip, the hope is that as you scroll through digital bills, the slightly extended time between deciding to buy and handing over your money will give you a moment to pause and reconsider whether or not you REALLY want to buy. NDD also claims that reincorporating the physical aspect of spending brings back some beneficial emotions like “the boost of Oxytocin you get when gifting or receiving cash, the pain you feel when spending a lot and the feeling of control you gain when interacting with cash.”
So how does this work? Using near field communication or NFC—the same technology that Apple Pay uses—you can point Scrip at an NFC payment terminal and then begin scrolling through digital bills. Check out this demonstration video from Scrip’s website. This motion is supposed to feel like flipping through bills in a wad of cash. For example, a charge between $25.01 and $26, you would flick your thumb across a 20, then a five, then a one. The cost would then be deducted from your refillable online wallet. To see the amount of digital cash remaining in your “wad,” you can do a long press, and it will show up on the digital display. You could also use the gadget for passing money between friends. And if you’re worried about safety, Scrip can be programmed to lock out if it gets too far from your phone.
The Verge says Scrip is still “a thought experiment and not a consumer product.” But the possibility of a digital wallet that helps people feel their money leaving their hands is exciting and potentially revolutionary for our digital world.