THERE is a new app for the smart phone which, technology experts tell us, will transform the business of settling a restaurant bill when nobody has any change.
Instead of sleight of hand with £20 and £10 notes, cash transfers will be done between diners using something called Pingit.
This bit of software is said to turn your mobile into a wallet. The phones are linked to users' bank accounts and can be used for person-to-person cash transactions.
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Call me old-fashioned but I think this digital process is bound to be immensely more complex than just shuffling some bank notes about the table.
I can, however, see the benefits. It gives people something to fiddle about with on their phones at the dinner table. (Saves them having to make conversation.) Plus, you can tell people the money's coming to their phone as a wee change from saying the cheque is in the post.
What the world needs is an app which can cope with important communal restaurant bill issues such as: who had the rice? This will be a device which tracks (at a teachers' Christmas dinner, to take a random example) who didn't have a starter, who passed on the pudding, who only had tap water, and did Shuggy really manage to get through three bottles of wine?
There will still be arguments over who pays what. But the head of maths will be able to display all the relevant information in a pie-chart on his iPad.
I can see how this Pingit method of paying without readies will be popular. I can see difficulties. Requests for loans: "Gonnae use your thingmy to ping me a tenner? I'll ping ye back when I get my payday loan."
Advanced technology will doubtless lead to moneyless transactions in pubs.
Handy in establishments which have a cheery notice such as: "Please do not ask for credit as a punch in the face can often offend."
You will be able to ping yourself a pint. Or offer to phone your pal a glass of the house red. I will be saying: "I know it's my round but I just can't get a signal."
Then I'll borrow £20 and promise to repay it the next Thursday when I expect to receive a postal order.