“Money Money Money”, sang the lovely oracle-like ladies of ABBA, “Must be funny. In a rich mans world.” As Alan Partridge knows, ABBA are right about everything. And when they sing money must be funny, as in funny peculiar, as in funny odd, as in that’s a bit bloody funny mate, they are – as usual- SPOT ON. Because money is really, by its nature, a head spinning weird conceptual leap that we put ourselves through all day every day. It’s funny. Hahaha. And this week it’s gone and got a whole lot weirder with the introduction of Paym.
Paym - for those of you who don’t scour the technology pages looking for tell tale signs of the imminent, free market sponsored apocalypse – is a new way of paying for things with your mobile phone. Not, like you enter your credit card details via your phone, no. Now you can register your
prison mobile phone number with your bank, and then use it to send money to another phone running Paym without having to worry about typing in those tedious bank details. A further app called Zapp is planned for later in the year to allow the same thing, but for payments for shops and services. Great! Convenience! We all love convenience, right?
The implications for this are quite something though. Money- in England at least- used to be linked to a big fuck off sack of gold hidden somewhere underneath the Queen’s bed. Not anymore though! Gordon Brown flogged all the gold a few years back. Where your coins and notes used to have a physical link to something somewhere in the country -like, a five pound note was equivalent to five quids worth of gold- for some time now money has been linked (as far as I can see) to nothing.
The introduction of Paym is a step further on the alchemical journey to transmute money into air. In the future money will be contained within the ‘cloud’, only accessible through networked devices, and utterly reliant on a whole host of companies to exist. No doubt it will be re-branded, Money 2.0. Its intrinsic value will be nil. Soon enough, ‘real’ cash won’t be accepted ( this is already starting to happen - have you tried paying for a London bus journey, on the bus, with coins recently?) and our lives will be that little bit more circumscribed by conglomerates who answer to nothing more than the wishes and desires of rapacious board rooms. You’ll need a phone, a contract and a bank to be able to participate in society, and these things can be removed with ease. Living outside a tightly prescribed framework of capitalist existence will become harder and harder, and those at the bottom will be increasingly screwed, increasingly excluded, and increasingly prowling the streets looking to jack your shiny new iPhone, and with it, your entire existence.
So let’s hear it for money- physical money: a doomed bastard of a beast; a lumbering, clunking hammer that’s beaten us for years, but, at the least, an honest cove. It's days are done, it's number's up, bring forth the new breed, a shadowy, insubstantial thing that has no weight, no mass and infinite power. Quiver mortals! Your God rises!