Google (who else?) is coming up with a way for all of us to make payments from our phones. Check out the WSJ article here. As the article points out, the farther away from cash a transaction is, the more likely we are to overspend. Ever notice how many of the innovations in mobile devices involve us spending more money? Funny how that works.
The psychology of money works in strange ways in the world of social relationships as well. In certain cultures (Spain in particular) more than others, gifts and other non-monetary transactions occur all the time. Dinner, drinks, rides/lifts and borrowing stuff are all examples. As long as there is no cash involved, these things are not counted the way cash would be and therefore the opportunity for the “free-rider effect” is greater. If it is not cash, it doesn’t count.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Google is familiar with this stuff.