This post is also available in: Japanese
It’s easy to laugh at 1960s predictions that we would be holidaying on the moon in 2020, but a couple of incidents in my own personal and business life recently made me realise that some of the other predictions we have heard so often such as a paperless office, the end of coins and notes and the automation of jobs are coming true more quickly than I had thought.
At the end of last year, my bookkeeper told me it was no longer profitable for her to work 1 day a month for me. Actually, I had already been thinking that with our new cloud-based accounting software, Xero, I no longer needed her. Xero is a New Zealand company which is becoming very popular with Small to Medium Enterprises in the UK since it became mandatory for financial records to be kept in digital form using software that is compatible with filing VAT returns online with the tax agency.
Xero is user friendly for non-accountants, can be linked to automated feeds from bank accounts and now has a feature whereby if I receive an receipt or invoice in pdf form, I can forward it via email and Xero automatically turns it into an entry in the accounts. The UK tax agency accept receipts, bank statements and invoices in digital form and as I no longer need to hand over the hard copies to my bookkeeper for her to reconcile, it means I can throw away all the files of hard copies.
In my personal life I realise this means I don’t have to keep asking for receipts, so long as the entry in my bank account is detailed enough. Until recently, some of the smaller shops in my neighbourhood had a minimum of £5 for any payment by card, but now all of them accept contactless payment for any amount. I have not withdrawn any cash for several weeks now.
I thought this would be a problem when I went to my local women’s networking lunch recently, as they have a raffle each month to raise money for charity, but even they were accepting payment via a contactless device. They told me that it has already resulted in a big increase in ticket sales.
I paid for my raffle ticket with my contactless debit card, but others touched the device with their mobile phones to pay, using Android Pay.
I felt even more old fashioned when I unthinkingly asked my son to reimburse me by cheque for a mobile phone I bought him using my Amazon Prime account. Now he is 18, he has his own bank account and I told him he would have to pay for and manage his own mobile phone subscription. He looked at me strangely and asked me how he could do that, as he was not given a cheque book by his bank. In the end, he paid me using his banking app on his phone.
This article was originally published in Japanese in the Teikoku Databank News on 12th February 2020
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