A noticeable trend within the UNMC community is the changing and differing responses to the use of the UNMC Cash Card. In fact, issues with the UNMC Cash Card have been addressed in December 2015 as well as October 2016. This suggests that discussions about the cash card are relevant and recurring amongst students.
Despite an interview with the Director of Campus Services, Mr Nicholas Ching, which addresses student concerns; criticisms and uncertainties of the ‘cashless’ process linked to the cash card remain widespread on campus. Thus, what the students of UNMC say about the use of campus facilities such as the cash card is important. Especially as the SA Election season is soon approaching in late February this year.
Hence, after interviews with a number of students, this article follows the different perspectives regarding the UNMC Cash Card. These are in line with the straightforward questions prepared for the interviews: (1) Do you use UNMC Cash Card? and (2) Why, or why not?
“YES, I use the UNMC Cash Card!”
Several interviewees highlighted the positive aspects of UNMC Cash Card.
Muhammad Amry bin Mohd Ependi from the Foundation in Arts and Education thinks that UNMC Cash Card leads to quick monetary exchanges and the convenience of not carrying physical cash. In addition to financial factors, Muhammad Amry also believes that,
“The promotion of UNMC cash card shows that the university is competent in the digital age.”
Other than that, in spite of the perceived waste of natural resources due to the use of printed receipts in the cash card system, a year-one respondent remains supportive about the use of the cash card because he “wants to follow the law” of UNMC. Another interviewee believes that the use of UNMC Cash Card cannot be avoided due to its wide application in the cafeteria. According to her,
“A number of food stalls would only accept payment with the cash card because ‘they do not own the cash register’ “
“NO, I do not use the UNMC Cash Card!”
However, many interviewees also state that they do not use the cash card. Reasons vary widely from person to person. The unofficial method of payment commonly practised in the cafeteria is payment by cash, despite a rule instated by the university in 2015 prohibiting this practice.
One reason for using hard cash over the card is the inconvenience, which is ironic as the tagline to promote the cash card in 2015 was “Cashless Convenience”. Second-year education student Farhat summed up the situation for most non-users of the card:
“I use cash most of the time because it’s easier than reloading,”
Farhat adds that “sometimes there is a huge line” in front of the cash card reload machine, present in both the cafeteria and beside the ATM. This mostly during peak hours, such as lunchtimes on weekdays, or during the start of an academic year.
But what makes it so difficult to reload? After all, the reload machines are devoid of patrons for most of the day. Some respondents blame the machines for “breaking down” during usage. However, the mentality seems to play a key role. Jia Le, a first-year economics student says,
“I think it’s not convincing, cash is a better way of transaction”.
Others are more frank. “Sometimes I run out of credit in the cash card, and I am honestly just too lazy to [reload]. So I just pay cash,” says third-year electrical engineering student, Seif Aleslam.
Additionally, a respondent points out that the cash card is “limited to just a few stores, and not available as a means of payment at 7-11.” Indeed, places such as Subway, the phone accessories store and the Tuesday Bazaar do not accept cash cards. This is an important factor in deciding practicality of purchasing the card. Moreover, students also frequently purchase food, drink and groceries off-campus. So, it is clear that carrying physical cash is still necessary.
Other reasons why students avoid the cash card include the recurring service charge, which some perceive as unreasonable. Then there is the risk of misplacing the card. Upon purchase, there is no obvious physical difference between a person’s cash card and another. Finally, there is the case that a majority still prefer self-catering and off-campus eateries.
So, what does this mean?
Clearly, there exists a simultaneous use of both card and cash in campus life. While the management may constantly preach the card’s necessity, most students frankly care very little about what goes on behind closed doors; they seek convenience and practicality.
UNMC Cash Card: The sign promoting the use of cash card is only advertised in the cafeteria.
However, there is a possible misunderstanding among students regarding this issue. Some believe that cash cards are the only way to purchase food, and therefore use it, perhaps after seeing the signage above. New students may be the main bearers of this false assumption. On the other extreme, some students may not be aware of this rule and assume that physical cash and the cash card are parallel payment options. If the rules are properly enforced so vendors refuse cash in favour of cash cards, students will have no choice but to use the card. However, this may result in a backlash, as cash payment has become commonplace.
Thus, in order for the official system to be accepted, the issues raised by students need to be properly addressed. Main things to consider would be quicker responses to breakdowns of the cash card reload machines and expanding acceptance of the card among traders in the university.
If the management is serious about making this system work, they need to convince UNMC students that its use will have little implication on their university experience. More importantly, as our very own election will begin within less than a month, future SA Office candidates would benefit greatly from addressing this trending issue.
Written by Ahmad F. Affendy and Teoh Sing Fei.
Feature image by Teoh Sing Fei.