Clubcard Money

I was in Tesco the other day.

Not something I’m wont to do – I abhor the place, having worked for a short time in a previous life for their opposition and supplied them for an even shorter time. It is not somewhere I feel particularly at home. But Tesco exists.

And of course, having acquired a size nationally and locally to enable them to shut down the opposition, I have to respect a close relative’s point of view: there is no (realistic and local) alternative. (I will still always dislike sending some of the purchase price 200 miles away to their head office in Welwyn Garden City.)

Still, that is why – at least I’ll reduce their profits – I have a Tesco clubcard.
So when, having reluctantly spent £40, I was told that I would not be able to receive clubcard points, I was decidedly peeved.

When the checkout operative informed me that “it was just one of those things.” I was even more peeved.

Were they withdrawing the scheme? No.

Had they run out of points? Don’t think so.

I consider clubcard points a currency and a form of money.

It is, in due course, a promise to pay.

I buy from Tesco and they give me a bit back at the end of the quarter. With this I can purchase other things either from Tesco or from many others.

It is a promise.
A promise that I will be paid at a later date.

Having created this currency Tesco can never say they’ve run out of points.

And to be fair the ‘supervisor’ agreed they hadn’t. It was a local problem and if I presented my card at a desk on the way out I would indeed receive points for my purchases.
Confidence was restored.

Clubcard points are just like money.

It is a social confidence scheme. And confidence is essential.
So Tesco could stop their rewards and throw up their currency scheme (doubtless at some cost to their company) but whilst they continue to run it they can never run out of points.

And if Tesco can manage to issue currency without problem, surely the Bank of England can.

The Bank of England issues a better form of of clubcard points, which are even more widely accepted.

That is in return for being a UK citizen and usually for a working contribution to that same UK.
We then get a promise to be able to acquire things we might desire at a later date. Just like with a clubcard.

Dave Lewis, CeO of Tesco isn’t Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, but he isn’t so far removed.

And neither can say there are no points or there is no money. Although each could say that they are no longer interested and you must go elsewhere for your points or your money. Sainsbury’s say, or Frankfurt or Washington.

But with the social construct that currently exists neither can ever, ever run out of points – or money.


  1. Sean Danaher -

    a good analogy for a fiat currency.

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