In preparation for the Taiwan trip next week, I went to the Mechanics Bank downtown today to exchange for some Taiwan dollars. It's always good to have some cash on hand to at least get from the airport to the hotel.
In doing so I was reminded of the last time I visited the same bank this past May: to buy some Korean currency. Both times I purchased around $200 worth of local money.
On the Korea trip, I could have easily not used any of the cash I exchanged: the country is fabulously accepting of credit cards. From the airport bus kiosk down to the elder ladies peddling food in front of the baseball stadium, I was amazed at how often i can use card to pay. For a person living in the States used to seeing 'cash only' signs in many storefronts, it's a pleasure and convenience I wish America would adopt.
Unfortunately, Taiwan isn't nearly as friendly to credit cards as Korea, at least from my previous experience two years ago. Perhaps it'll be different this time: on the last trip we had to take a one-hour bus ride from the airport to get into Taipei, now there's a dedicated subway line taking half the time.
I for one cannot wait for a true cash-less society, with my wallet's contents all residing in the smartphone. To pay for anything, all I have to do is hover my phone over an NFC device. Apple Pay on the iPhone is getting there, but there still exist a huge dearth of places that accept it. I will not be surprised if Korea is the first country to go truly/completely mobile wallet.
Wait, would that mean I'll have to switch to a Samsung phone and get Samsung pay?