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April 10, 2013

Living without the Queen’s head (my Bristol Pound TXT2Pay Challenge)

Written by Carolyn Hair – of Culture Darling fame.

How long could you live without access to credit cards, or that printed cash with the Queen’s head on? Well, recently I took up the challenge of swapping my purse for my mobile phone with Bristol Pound’s TXT2Pay system. As I made my way around Bristol on my mission, people usually asked worriedly whether I had to pay for everything this way – food, drink and entertainment. So how long would I last…?

Day 1 – feed me TXT2Pay

First off, confession time. I hadn’t used the TXT2Pay system before. So fearful of a rumbling stomach in the afternoon, I was a bit nervous about my first cash-less purchase, but headed off to Corn Street to see what I could find. As a TXT2Pay newbie too, Café Revival, seemed appropriate for a yummy sarnie and coffee to go. And it was as easy as it sounds! I simply texted:

“Pay **** (my pin) caferevival1 5.30”

Et voilà, without plastic or paper money, I’d just bought lunch! There is certainly noshortage of TXT2Pay-friendly eating establishments. The week’s groceries were purchased from the Better Food Company topped up with bread, cheese and provisions from The Source Food Hall and Café in St Nicks market. My sleep was sweet – this was going to be easy…

Day 2 – start the day with TXT2Pay

Coffee is an essential start to this caffeine addict’s day, so my confidence started to wane on Day 2. But I just needed to take a slight detour to Baristas, leaving with TXT2Pay coffee and chat (I was told I had a cool name). So TXT2Pay put a smile on my face on a Tuesday morning (and that’s not easy to do).

Popping to the movies is one of my favourite ways to pass the time so there was some celluloid concern in my TXT2Pay week. But the trusty DVD store, 20th Century Flicks came to the rescue. It’s been ages since I’ve enjoyed the ‘video store’ ritual of my teenage years, and with the largest collection in the UK, it was a film-goer’s delight. Eventually I opted for a film I hadn’t heard about, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. Whilst chatting about the Bristol Pound, it was suggested that TXT2Pay was handy if you forgot your wallet. So I ended Day 2 thinking that actually my mobile was more important than my purse!

Day 3 – ideas washed down with TXT2Pay

With the dominance of online retailers and high street stores, would I be able to buy novels for my book club in Bristol with TXT2Pay? Luckily, in the heart of St Nicks market lies Beware of the Leopard, two rooms jam-packed with books. I dare you to leave without buying something!

Books bought, and my thoughts passed to food again. This time soup from the Sourdough Café – delicious and all the better for being served with a TXT2Pay chat. Sourdough’s Jessica said that the TXT2Pay was helping the uptake of the Bristol Pound:

“More and more people are using TXT2Pay and it’s inspiring even more people to use theBristol Pound. It is good for businesses too as many of those we trade with use it too. It is interactive between traders and consumers.”

In the evening, I had already bought tickets for a Festival of Ideas event with Ben Goldacre, but I let myself off as it was at At-Bristol which takes TXT2Pay anyway. After all those ideas, a drink or two was in order, so we headed to the Arnolfini bar where TXT2Pay was warmly welcomed.

Day 4 – TXT2Pay curry close to home

One of the fun things about the challenge was that I moved around the city, seeking new places, but I also wanted to test out if it easy to incorporate TXT2Pay into my daily life. Shopping online is such a habit now that it was good to know that I could still keep it local with TXT2Pay via The Bristol Shop. It was also a relief to discover there is somewhere very local for me to eat out – the Thali Café Totterdown. So I treated myself and my boyfriend to a meal in the name of TXT2Pay. Would I ever go back to sterling…?

Day 5 – fashion fix à la TXT2Pay

I have weakness for vintage fashion so not being able to buy second-hand clobber, and the whole thing could have been off before it started. However Shop on the Christmas Steps came to the rescue. I had a fashion fix over lunch and, while resisting a rail of dresses, I bought a pair of earrings for Mother’s Day. My Mum didn’t miss out because of the TXT2Pay challenge – she also received her favourite chocs from A Bar Full of Chocolate and a card from Jenny Life.

I could have easily kept going over the weekend, filled with drinks, eating (and more eating) and perhaps venturing to check out live music, but I had to leave Bristol for a weekend away. So at around 6pm I took up my purse again as I had to buy rail tickets to London town… However, I bought supplies for my journey from the Park Street Local Shop.

The challenge certainly reinforced how easy it is to shop locally, and altered my daily path through the city. It also revealed how the Bristol Pound as a conversation starter can brighten your day – it really is happy money.

Bristol, the challenge is on – how long can you last without Sterling?

How long can you survive and thrive on TXT2Pay? Can you beat my 4 ¾ days? We challenge you Bristol! Tweet us @bristolpound or visit us on Facebook, and we’ll feature your TXT2Pay adventures on our blog.


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  2. nick wilson says:

    If you carry on with this, then before long the PRS people will decide that because citizens lose or have their phones stolen, the next best thing is to implant a chip into their hand so they can pay with that. Simple, nice and easy eh? Then soon there’s no point in fussing with dirty, fiddly cash money, just abolish it and have everyone pay via the chip implant, easy eh? no fuss! And their dream will be complete, whereby anyone who wants to protest or not be a good citizen will just have their chip turned off. its been over 30 years in the making, but slowly they are getting there