most daily financial transactions in nz are made by eftpos (electronic funds transfer at point of sale). very similar to a debit card that is tied to your bank account and has a pin. unlike a credit card you don’t sign and there is no minimum purchase – i’ve seen folks use them for under $1. i can’t think of the last time i saw someone other than a tourist use a credit card for a store purchase. when i first got here i vowed i would use cash for anything under $20 – using the eftpos just seemed lazy. my new limit is $5. haven’t used a credit card once.
when it is time to pay the cashier almost always says “eftpos?” when you say yes you then hand them the card that they swipe and then hand you a keypad for you to enter your pin. the display on the keypad says “processing” and then “accepted”.
*every* single time i see the display say “accepted” i think of the saturday night live sketch with the target (tuurget) cashier who is so excited when the customer’s signature matches the one on the card – “it’s a match!”. it takes all the restraint i can muster not to declare “accepted!” with the same enthusiasm.
when i first arrived and signed up for my westpac “chequing” account i was surprised that they didn’t provide any cheques. they explained that for non retail transactions they are done electronically, usually with on-line banking. (a teller in a bank can do an electronic transaction for you if you can’t get on-line). so when i needed to pay for my parking space the company emailed me their bank details and i logged into my westpac account and sent them the cash.
westpac said they could provide me with cheques if i wanted and since i still expected that i would need them at some point so i asked for a box. they banker looked sideways a bit and said that cheques were issued 30 at a time. when i got my order i noticed that there is a government fee of $3 charged the first time a cheque is used to subsidize the old paper based system.
i’ve still got all 30.