The pair of combat boots in the window are a little out of your price range, but they’re vintage and fall is right around the corner. The kale smoothie with hemp milk and chia seeds costs $12, but you’ll get an entire meals-worth of nutrients in liquid form. These are legitimate justifications for dipping into money you may not have, right? Maybe not. If you can’t seem to slow your gratuitous spending, maybe it’s time to learn the hard way: via electric shocks.
A UK-based software developer Intelligent Environments has introduced a new platform that attempts to curb overspending through a form of positive punishment: by giving the spender an electric shock for every unnecessary purchase. According to Co.Exist, the new project links bank or credit cards to a devices that can deliver an electric shock, such as the Pavlok electroshock wristband. The wristband can also be programmed to give other kinds of annoying reminders if you prefer something less extreme than an electric current passing through your body.
The new concept is designed to help people regain constraint in their spending without making them too worried about finances. In an increasingly digital world that makes it so much easier to spend money without realizing it, this goal of increasing visibility around money has become crucial. Online shopping, Venmo, Apple Pay, and countless other digital platforms for spending are certainly more convenient, but they also diminish our connectedness to the money we have. “Contact lists, smart phones, direct debits, standing orders: money is virtually invisible for people today,” the managing director at Intelligent Environments David Webber comments.
The program developers are also creating a feature that will link the reminders or electric shocks to specific locations. If, for example, you’ve told yourself that you’re going to start making your own burrito bowls and stop going to Chipotle, there will be a setting that delivers a customized warning every time you step food inside a Chipotle. “Guac is extra” actually begs to be considered in this situation.
Based on the research that Intelligent Environments has conducted around the new product, millennials are the most interested in the product for themselves while those over 25 would recommend it to a partner or a family member. While millennials may be the most likely to attest to this idea of invisible money due to their digital lifestyles, overspending is an indiscriminate issue that affects all age groups.
Intelligent Environments’ idea is still just a concept since no banks have officially picked it up, but the company is definitely tapping into a need that should be met as technology advances. The ultimate irony is that this new platform employs technology to fix a problem that technology started in the first place, but that’s the kind of overlap you get when a digitizing world shows no sign of slowing down. Instead of relying on your shaky moral compass to tell you “no” when you set your eyes on that $16 mezcal cocktail, an electric shock on your wrist may be able to get the job done.