If you are a proud American, you might want to skip to another page. This might hurt a bit. If you are a Canadian, you get relief from the pain.
As a Canadian, you are probably used to looking with envy across the border at all the great new products, new varieties, new flavours that Americans get access to before you. Or you might go cross-border shopping, and your friends look upon you with envy.
But when it comes to money and banking, it is Americans who must look across the border with envy.
Consider these advances in Canada that still have not come to the USA:
Within Canada, anybody can send anybody else money with no fees, instantly with an email address. All you have to do is pre-arrange with the other person the correct answer to a security question. Although this service is limited to $1000 per day, all major banks participate and you don’t have to leave home or write cheques. And after several years, it is still available only in Canada.
Since 1987, Canadians have been using “Loonies” – coins featuring one of my all-time favourite birds, the Loon – instead of dollar bills. In 1996, the Toonie was introduced, featuring a polar bear, to replace the two dollar bill.
In 2012, Canada issued a glow-in-the-dark quarter (25 cents), featuring a Pachyrhinosaurus Lacustai, the first dinosaur discovered in Alberta, which is now one of the top treasure troves of dino bones. Oh, come on. You can’t tell me that isn’t cool.
Sometimes progress is measured not in the new products introduced, but in the anachronisms that are discontinued. Like Sweden, Australia and New Zealand before us, Canada has just discontinued the penny. This little coin that costs more to produce than it’s worth, and costs the economy countless Loonies and Toonies in pocket-hole repair, will no longer plague our fair land. Don’t hold your breath, though, for Americans to be saved from this scourge. Now, if we could just stop producing mosquitoes…
Just kidding. There are no mosquitoes in Canada’s banking and monetary system (which might just be the only place in Canada without mosquitoes!).
I cannot remember the day when Canadian currency was monochromatic. To my memory, it has always been a display of colour – as are most currencies in the world. I would be tempted at this juncture to make some typically Canadian snide remark about Americans missing the “u” in “colour”. But in this case, they are in fact missing the “c”, “o”, “l”, “o”, “u” and the “r”. Wait. Hold the presses.
The most recent American bills have traces of colour. Not quite an explosion. Not even a display. But traces are progress, right?
To those who yearn for the olden days, for traditional ways, for more natural displays, plastic
currency might not be seen as “progress” or “advantage”. But Canada has introduced polymer money,
including see-through notes, such as the $50 bill introduced last year.
Canada has many other differences – advantages, some have described them – in its banking and monetary system, but I am not the one to recount these. I will stick to those consumer products that you and I can see, touch and feel.
Canadians might have to wait to pick up the latest fashion trend or taste the latest flavour of yogurt, but at least we have the latest money that money can buy.