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電子貨幣支付會導致花費更多嗎?

Does e-money make you spend more?
電子貨幣支付會導致花費更多嗎?

I have a memory as a boy, saving my pocket money by placing it in a special drawer, the golden pound coins collecting into a neat stack. (Although the stack never got too high to endanger its structural integrity.) I grew up in Hastings, a small coastal town in East Sussex, famous for 1066 and seaside charm. It has a reputation for being somewhat rundown and is forever “up-and-coming”.

我記得小時候,為了省下零花錢,把它放在一個專門的抽屜里,一英鎊的硬幣整整齊齊地堆疊在一起(堆疊高度從不危及結構的完整性)。我在黑斯廷斯(Hastings)長大,東蘇塞克斯(Sussex)的一個沿海小鎮,黑斯廷斯以1066年的歷史和迷人的海濱而聞名。它有點陳舊的名聲,但一直保持積極進取。

I got my first debit card when I was 14. Later, I saved up money for a gap year, by working at a bingo hall, and I put the money into a savings account. I avoided credit cards. Back then (2007) it was still around 5% interest rates, and I remember getting £70 ($91) one year, which made me feel very rich indeed.

我14歲時拿到了第一張借記卡。后來,我在一家賓果游戲廳工作,攢了一年的錢,然后把錢存進儲蓄賬戶。我避免使用信用卡。當時(2007年)的銀行利率在5%左右,我記得有一年拿到70英鎊(91美元),這讓我覺得非常富有。
 

Skip forward to 2018 and I was living and working in Beijing, China, as a freelance journalist. All around me Beijing residents were paying for everything using just their smartphones. They would walk up to a counter of a restaurant, shop, or convenience store, and offer up a QR code for the cashier to scan. Once scanned, the online  system would immediately deduct the exact amount owed from the payer’s e-wallet. No fumbling for cash and waiting for change. No swipe of a plastic card either. The transaction would take seconds.

進入2018年,我在中國北京以自由記者的身份生活和工作。我周圍的北京居民都在用智能手機支付一切費用。人們在餐廳、商店或便利店的柜臺前,向收銀員出示二維碼進行掃描。掃描成功后,在線系統會立即從支付人的電子錢包中扣除相應的消費金額。沒有掏取現金和等待找零錢的過程,也不用刷卡,交易只需幾秒鐘。

But I was a stubborn holdout. My friends, both Western and Chinese, would make fun of me for being so traditional – for clinging onto “dirty cash” – seeing the crumpled paper bills as evidence of my Luddite ways. But there were a couple of reasons why I kept using physical money and avoided getting into e-payments and e-wallets. Firstly, it felt safer. I wasn’t really aware of how electronic money would work on my smartphone and I feared it would somehow get easily siphoned off. Having physical cash just felt safer.

我是個頑固的堅持者。我的朋友們,無論是西方的還是中國的,都取笑我太傳統,太執著于“臟現金”,把使用那些皺巴巴的紙幣當作我路德派(Luddite)作風的證據。我一直用實體貨幣,避免電子支付和電子錢包有幾個原因,首先,擁有現款感覺更安全。我不知道電子貨幣在智能手機上是如何運作的,擔心它會被輕易地吸走。

Secondly, I feared that by moving to electronic payments, and losing the greater friction of paying with cash, I would end up spending more. I was afraid that by losing the tangible, visible qualities of paper money, and the physical transaction – of fishing out my wallet, finding the required bills, and handing over the cash – I would lose all sense of how much, day by day, I would be spending.

其次,我擔心使用電子支付,沒有了現金支付的麻煩,最終會花費更多。由于失去了紙幣的有形、可見的特性和有形的交易——比如掏出錢包,找到需要的鈔票,然后交出現金。我會失去每天花多少的所有感覺。

Were these fears justified? As more and more people across the world shun cash, these are essential issues to consider.

這些擔心有道理嗎?隨著世界各地越來越多的人回避現金,這些都是需要考慮的基本問題。

Before we get into the twisty and tricky slopes of consumer psychology, and the conflict between classical economics and psychology that led to the birth of behavioural economics – let’s first consider what money is exactly.

在我們進入消費心理復雜和棘手的問題前,以及導致行為經濟學誕生的古典經濟學和心理學之間的沖突之前,先考慮一下金錢到底是什么?

Money is an abstract concept – and today we take it for granted, not considering how a piece of paper, or pieces of metal, are valuable items in themselves. But money is a relatively recent invention, and it represented a fundamental change in human society, says Natacha Postel-Vinay, who teaches a course in the history of money and finance at the London School of Economics.

金錢是一個抽象的概念,今天我們把它視為理所當然,從不考慮一張紙或一塊金屬本身是否有價值。在倫敦經濟學院教授貨幣和金融史課程的波爾泰維奈(Natacha Postel-Vinay)說,貨幣是一項相對較新的發明,它代表了人類社會的根本變化。

“It was completely different from barter,” she says. “You don’t need exact matching from two different people and their desires. If you wanted to buy some bread, the bread seller didn’t need to have something specific from you; your coat or your garden veg. You just needed some silver.”

她說:“這和易貨完全不同。不需要匹配不同人的需求。如果想買面包,面包商不需要得到其它的東西:外套或者蔬菜。只需要付一些銀子。”

The first recorded use of money was in ancient Iraq and Syria, in the Babylon civilisation, around 3000BC. In Babylonian times people used chunks of silver which were accounted according to a standardised weight known as a shekel. From Babylon, we have records of the first prices, recorded by priests at the Temple of Marduk, as well as the first ledgers and the first debts.

第一次有記錄的使用貨幣,是在公元前3000年左右的古巴比倫文明時期的古伊拉克和敘利亞。在巴比倫時代,人們使用大塊的銀,這些銀是根據一種叫謝克爾(shkel)的標準重量來計算的。從巴比倫開始有了最初的價格記錄,是由祭司在馬爾杜克神廟記錄,還有最初的賬簿和最初的債務。

From Babylon we have many of the essential things required for a monetary economy. These include the fact the silver was regularly tested for its fineness and there was a stabilising force, such as a King or government, which people could trust to guarantee the value of the money. “At all times, in order for money to have value, trust is needed,” says Postel-Vinay. But there have been many developments in money along the way. Babylon had money, but it was still bulky and had to be weighed – it wasn’t as advanced as coins. From about 1000BC other civilisations were using precious metal, and in ancient Greece, in the Kingdom of Lydia, the first coins were minted.

在巴比倫,有了貨幣經濟所需的許多基本要素。包括:銀的純度接受定期測試;對國王或政府的信任,人們相信國王或政府能保證貨幣的價值。波爾泰維奈說:“在任何時候,為了讓錢有價值,信任是必需的。”在這個過程中,貨幣方面也有了很大發展。巴比倫有貨幣,但它很笨重,需要稱重,它沒有硬幣那樣先進。大約從公元前1000年起,其他文明開始使用貴金屬,在古希臘的呂底亞(Lydia)王國,第一批硬幣被鑄造出來。

The first paper bills were used in Imperial China during the Tang dynasty (AD 618-907), which existed as privately issued bills of credit or exchange notes, but Europe wouldn’t cotton on to the idea until the 17th Century.

中國最早使用紙幣是在唐朝(公元618-907年),當時的紙幣是私人發行的信用票據或交換票據,但直到17世紀,歐洲才開始接受這種想法。

Nowadays, money is not tied to physical objects that are in themselves valuable commodities, such as gold or silver coins, but we use a form called fiat money which is a currency that a government has established as legal tender.

如今,貨幣不再與實物掛鉤,實物本身就是有價值的商品,如金幣或銀幣。我們使用的是一種被稱為“法定貨幣”的貨幣形式,這種法定貨幣是由政府確立的。

The concept of credit (and debt) existed long before credit cards were invented. “It doesn’t need to be physical in order for it to be money,” explains Postel-Vinay.

信用(和債務)的概念早在信用卡發明之前就存在了。波爾泰維奈解釋說:“為了賺錢,它不需要是有形的。”

The bank-issued credit card was invented by John Biggins of the Flatbush National Bank of Brooklyn in New York in 1946. Subsequently, credit cards were promoted to travelling salesmen, for them to use while on the road, in America. In the UK, Barclays issued the UK’s first credit card on 29 June 1966.

銀行發行的信用卡是1946年由紐約布魯克林(Brooklyn)的弗拉特布什(Flatbush)國家銀行的比金斯(John Biggins)發明的。隨后,在美國信用卡被推廣到旅行推銷員,供他們在旅途中使用。在英國,巴克萊銀行(Barclays)于1966年6月29日發行了英國第一張信用卡。

The first debit card appeared in the UK in 1987. Chip and pin was introduced in 2003, and contactless credit cards followed four years later.

1987年,英國出現了第一張借記卡。芯片和個人識別碼(PIN)技術于2003年推出,4年后非接觸式信用卡也隨之出現。

In China, meanwhile, scanning QR codes with your smartphone, or generating QR codes on your smartphone to be scanned by merchants, was co-opted as a means of making payments. China’s rapid adoption of electronic payments is explained by the ubiquity of WeChat in the country, a super-app that includes e-payment/e-wallet, messaging, and social media functions; the popularity of e-commerce platforms, such as Alibaba’s Taobao platform; and the fact that China has relatively low rates of credit card usage. From around 2015, adoption of e-payments in day-to-day usage became much more prevalent.

與此同時,在中國,用智能手機掃描二維碼,或在智能手機上生成二維碼供商家掃描,被當作一種支付方式。中國能迅速采用電子支付是因為:微信無處不在,這是一款超級應用,包括電子支付/電子錢包、短信和社交媒體功能;電子商務平臺的普及,如阿里巴巴的淘寶平臺;以及信用卡使用率相對較低的事實。從2015年開始中國普遍使用電子支付。

Countries that have the highest rates of cashless spending include Canada, where having more than two credits cards per person is a norm. In Europe, Sweden is the most cashless society, with just 13% of Swedes reporting that they used cash for a recent purchase, according to a nationwide survey conducted last year, down from around 40% in 2010. In comparison, around 70% of Americans still  use cash on a weekly basis, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

加拿大是無現金消費比率最高的國家,一人擁有兩張以上的信用卡是普遍現象。在歐洲,瑞典是最無現金消費的社會,瑞典去年進行的一項調查顯示,只有13%的瑞典人說在最近一次購物中使用了現金,低于2010年的40%左右。皮尤研究中心(Pew Research Center)最近的一項研究顯示,相比之下,約70%的美國人仍然每周使用現金。

Emelie Svensson, a Swede who works in New York City as a broadcast journalist, says the two countries are very different when it comes to the use of cash. “It’s based on tipping and a lot of stores don’t even take cards, or it’s a minimum $10 purchase,” she says, referring to her experience of living in America. “It’s getting better though, just five years ago I paid my rent in cash!”

在紐約做廣播記者的瑞典人斯文森(Emelie Svensson)說,在現金使用方面,美國和瑞典有很大的不同。她談到自己在美國的生活經歷時說:“美國是習慣于給小費的,很多商店甚至不收卡,或者至少要花10美元購買。”“不過瑞典情況也有所改變;5年前,我還用現金付了房租!”

And although the UK might be increasing in its use of non-cash payments, it still has a long way to go. For Moa Carlsson, a 20-year-old butcher from Gothenburg, the country feels quaint in comparison to her native Sweden. “I guess it’s a bit of fun and almost strange in a way to use cash,” she says, when she visits the UK. “England feels a bit more old-fashioned in itself. I would almost feel strange not to use cash there. I feel like the pound is a big part of England, much more so than the krona for Sweden”.

盡管英國可能會增加非現金支付的使用,但仍有很長的路要走。對于20歲來自哥德堡的卡爾森(Moa Carlsson)來說,與她的祖國瑞典相比,感覺英國很古雅。當她訪問英國時,她說:“我想在使用現金的方式上有點有趣,而且有點奇怪。”“英格蘭人自己感覺過時了。但如果在英國不使用現金,我倒會感到古怪了。我覺得英鎊是英格蘭的重要組成部分,比瑞典克朗更重要。”

For people who live in these increasingly cashless societies, the benefits of electronic payment are obvious. “It’s very convenient. You don’t have the feeling of having £200 in your pocket or [the hassle] of having to go take out money. ‘Where is the cash machine?’ It’s there in your pocket,” says William Vanbergen, a British entrepreneur who first arrived in China in 2003, and was a late adopter of e-payments.

對生活在無現金交易社會的人們來說,電子支付的好處顯而易見。這很方便。沒有口袋里有200英鎊的感覺,也沒有掏錢的麻煩。“提款機在哪里?它就在你的口袋里。”英國企業家范伯根(William Vanbergen)說。2003年他首次來到中國,是電子支付的后來使用者。

Like Carlsson, he says dealing in cash feels antiquated. When Vanbergen travels to Hong Kong for work, where cash is still the more usual payment method, or back to his native England, he says it’s like going back in time.

和卡爾森一樣,范伯根說用現金交易感覺過時了。當他去香港工作時(在香港,現金仍然是常見的支付方式)或者回到他的祖國英國時,他說,感覺就像回到了過去。

But what of the supposed disadvantages?

所謂的缺點是什么?


Does spending without using physical cash make people spend more? This is a complicated question and it involves seeing humans as fundamentally irrational creatures, in various ways. For instance, it has been shown psychologically that people feel more pain when they lose £100 than the joy they feel on gaining £100. In other words, the pain of the loss stings more, even though the two sums are exactly the same.

使用電子貨幣消費是否會讓人們花費更多?這是一個復雜的問題,它涉及在多方面將人類視為非理性的動物。例如,心理學上的研究表明,人們在失去100英鎊時感受到的痛苦比獲得100英鎊時感受到的快樂要多。換句話說,損失帶來的痛苦更傷人,盡管這兩筆錢的數目完全相同。

This kind of psychological insight has powered enormous change in the field of economics. Whereas before, in classical economics, academics based their theories on the assumption that people behave rationally (so that the loss and gain of an equal sum would be treated the same by an individual), this was shown to be false by psychological studies. This led to the discipline of behavioural economics and branches such as consumer psychology.

這種心理上的洞察推動了經濟學領域的巨大變革。以前,在古典經濟學中,學者們的理論是基于人們行為理性的假設(這樣,一個人就可以同樣對待等額的損失和收益),心理學研究表明這是錯誤的。這就產生了行為經濟學和消費心理學等分支學科。

One of the great researchers in this relatively new discipline is Drazen Prelec. The MIT professor once conducted a study that involved a silent auction. The auction was held for students at the prestigious Sloan business school, for tickets to sold-out NBA basketball games. The researchers told half the bidders they could pay only with cash, while the other half were told they could pay only with a credit card.

在這個相對較新的學科中,著名研究人員之一是普雷勒克(Drazen Prelec)。這位麻省理工學院的教授曾進行過一項無聲拍賣的研究。這次拍賣是為著名的斯隆商學院(SloanBusinessSchool)的學生舉辦的,拍賣的是已經售罄的NBA籃球賽的門票。研究人員告訴一半的競標者只能用現金支付,另一半人則被告知只能用信用卡支付。

The results astonished the researchers. On average, it was found that the credit card buyers were bidding more than twice as much as the cash buyers. What this means, according to Prelec, is that the psychological cost of spending a dollar on a credit card is only 50 cents.

結果讓研究人員感到驚訝。平均來看,信用卡買家的出價是現金買家的兩倍多。根據普雷勒克的說法,這意味著用信用卡花一美元的心理成本只有50美分。

Spending on a credit card clearly has effects on how people spend, which numerous studies have borne out. However, it’s also been shown that credit card bills, when they arrive, cause enormous pain for the receiver. So much so, in fact, that behavioural economists believe this explains the continuing popularity of debit cards.

信用卡消費顯然會影響人們的消費方式,許多研究都證明了這一點。然而,也有研究表明,信用卡賬單到達時,會給接收者帶來巨大的心理痛苦。事實上,行為經濟學家認為,這正是借記卡持續流行的原因。

But what about using e-wallets? What’s important is feedback, explains Emir Efendic, a post-doctoral psychologist and behavioural economist at the University of Louvain. “With credit cards, you don’t get instant updates. But with online banks, you see the amount deducted immediately,” says Efendic. “If you lose feedback, then yes you’ll be spending more”.

但是用電子錢包怎樣?盧萬大學(Louvain)的博士后心理學家和行為經濟學家埃弗雷迪(Emir Efendic)解釋說,重要的是反饋。“使用信用卡,不能得到即時反饋。但是有了網上銀行,馬上就能看到被扣除的金額,”埃芬迪奇說。“如果失去了反饋,那么是的,你會花更多的錢。”

With credit cards, the pain of payment is delayed (until that monthly bill arrives, anyway). The great ability of credit cards, in other words, is that they wield the psychological power of separating the pleasure of buying from the pain of paying.

使用信用卡,付款的痛苦被延遲(直到每月的賬單到達)。換句話說,信用卡的強大之處在于,它具有將購物的快樂與支付的痛苦分離開來的能力。

But with e-wallets, users can see that money is deducted immediately. Emily Belton, a  British ex-pat who uses WeChat Pay in Beijing, says she likes getting a notification each time she pays with it, and her balance and payments are updated in real-time. This is instant feedback and so does not have the same effect as a credit card.

但電子錢包,用戶可以看到錢被立即扣除。在北京使用微信支付的英國僑民貝爾頓(Emily Belton)說,她喜歡每次微信支付后收到通知,余額和付款會實時顯示。這是即時反饋,因此與信用卡的效果不同。

However, Prelec has found that neural pathways light up in what he describes as a “flinch moment”, almost like brief physical pain, when we part with our money. Although there is no similar research yet on paying with e-wallets, it could be hypothesised that the flinch moment could be missing when paying with a smartphone. But this needs more research.

然而,普雷勒克發現,當我們花錢時,神經系統中的“退縮時刻”會亮起,就像短暫的身體疼痛一樣。雖然目前還沒有使用電子錢包支付的類似研究,但可以假設,使用智能手機支付時可能會錯過神經系統中的“退縮時刻”。但這需要更多的研究。

This pain of parting with our money can keep us from overspending, but the negative aspect is that it can rob us some of the joy in consuming. This psychological cost, what Prelec calls a “moral tax”, can be reduced in various ways. Pricing instruments such as bundling – including “free” goods along with the purchase of a main good, can take away some of this “moral tax”. Prepayment is another method, even when there is no financial advantage. For example, people have been shown to prefer to pay in instalments for vacations (even though they’re losing some of their cash liquidity).

這種花錢的痛苦可以防止我們過度消費,但消極的一面是,它剝奪了我們消費的快樂。這種心理成本,普雷勒克稱之為“道德稅”。“道德稅”可以通過其它方式來降低。如捆綁銷售等定價工具,包括在購買一種主要商品的同時提供“免費”商品,在一定程度上降低了“道德稅”。提前還款也是一種方法,即使沒有經濟上的優勢。例如,人們更喜歡用分期付款的方式度假(盡管他們失去了一些現金流動性)。

And once they’re abroad they also find it easier to spend in foreign currency, treating it with much less seriousness than with the “real money” of their native country. Companies such as Club Med have latched onto this kind of psychology, where their resort guests buy plastic chips to use instead of cash.

一旦到了國外,人們也會發現用外幣消費更容易,對待外幣的嚴肅程度遠遠低于用本國的“真金白銀”。像地中海俱樂部(Club Med)這樣的公司就抓住了這種心理,在他們那里度假的客人,是購買塑料芯片來代替現金使用。

For me, I eventually transitioned to using e-payments in Beijing. I’ve found the cashless system quite staggering in its seamlessness, its convenience. It is like living in a world where you get all the benefits of spending, without the pain of paying.

就我來說,最終轉變為在北京使用電子支付。我發現無現金支付系統在無縫聯接和便利性方面相當驚人。這就像生活在一個可以享受所有消費帶來的好處,卻沒有付出痛苦的世界里。

Perhaps this is better for economies, where it could be beneficial if people spend their money more freely, and many governments around the world are trying to encourage this. There is an old English  saying: “Money, like manure, does no good till it is spread.” But sometimes, this kind of free spending, without any friction at all, leads to a kind of uneasiness.

也許這對經濟發展更有利,因為人們可以自由地花錢,對經濟有益,世界各地很多政府都鼓勵這樣做。英國有句古話:“金錢如糞肥,不散則無利。”但有時,這種輕松的自由消費,會導致一種不安。

Perhaps this is the “moral tax” Drazen Prelec refers to, which is a psychological tendency to feel opportunity costs as real pain. In other words, I might be feeling this uneasiness because I am imagining that I could be spending that money on other things instead.

可能這就是普雷勒克提到的“道德稅”,這是一種將機會成本視為真正痛苦的心理傾向。換句話說,我會感到這種不安,因為我想象我可能會把錢花在不重要的事情上。

As more societies move from cash-based to cashless, the way we spend might change. But money will remain a governing force in the lives of humans.

隨著越來越多的社會,從以現金為基礎的活動轉向無現金的活動,我們的消費方式在發生改變。但金錢仍在人類生活中起主導地位。
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