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Why We Should Fear A Cashless World (theguardian.com) 388

An anonymous reader writes: Dominic Frisby writes with a very interesting, albeit heavily opinionated, article from The Guardian discussing why we should all fear a cashless world. He argues "it will hand yet more power to the financial sector in that banks and related fintech companies will oversee all transactions." Every payment you will make will be traceable. While inequality is already a problem, it may be exacerbated even further in a cashless society. Frisby writes, "Cash, on the other hand, empowers its users. It enables them to buy and sell, and store their wealth, without being dependent on anyone else. They can stay outside the financial system, if so desired."
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Why We Should Fear A Cashless World

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  • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @07:27PM (#51757515)

    I guess it's going to be back to Barter World...

  • You know, actually anonymous instead of pseudo-not-really anonymous.

    Design suggestions?

    Pointers to existing "bitcoin 2.0 the actually anonymous version" projects?

    • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @07:54PM (#51757675)

      Design suggestions?

      First buy visa gift cards. Then swap them around. :p
      Every few months, swap your card.

      • by Burz ( 138833 )

        Seriously? They'll just jack up the premiums on the cards, or stop accepting them as payment.

        • Seriously? They'll just jack up the premiums on the cards, or stop accepting them as payment.

          This is true and the reason why Bitcoin or other crypto-currencies have a bright future serving the needs of the under-served in the economy . Whether it is for scams , drugs, prostitutes, or gambling, both cash and bitcoin fill an important role in a very large economy. Or serving unpopular organizations, political dissidents , journalists , or citizens trying to protect their savings from the theft of inflation, bail ins, asset forfeiture or the many other means states steal from their citizens. Physical

    • Isn't cash similarly not-really anonymous though? Each bank note has a unique serial number on it which could easily be scanned and recorded with modern technology making transactions pseudo-anonymous if businesses were required to scan the notes for each transaction and banks record the notes you withdraw etc. Of course that would not cover everything but it would probably cover enough that authorities could use it to track people in. This makes it similar to bitcoin in that tracking the currency takes som
      • Businesses aren't required to scan the notes' serial numbers, though. So cash is really anonymous. Still, anyway.

        Also, as long as individuals weren't required to scan serial numbers when exchanging currency, an anonymous cash economy could always still exist.

      • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @08:41PM (#51757979) Journal
        "Payroll robberies" were a thriving industry when I started my working life in the 70's, electronic transfers have eliminated that risk and reduced insurance premiums, so good luck finding an employer who pays your wage in cash rather than direct deposit into your bank account.
        • Payroll robberies" were a thriving industry when I started my working life in the 70's, electronic transfers have eliminated that risk and reduced insurance premiums, so good luck finding an employer who pays your wage in cash rather than direct deposit into your bank account.

          James Cagney's "White Heat" begins with a train robbery of all things and ends in a botched payroll robbery. Even in 1949, Cody Jarrett was an anachronism, a dead man walking.

      • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @08:56PM (#51758061)

        Isn't cash similarly not-really anonymous though? Each bank note has a unique serial number on it ...

        That's why I buy everything using pennies. Sure, buying the house and car was a bitch and my carry-on is troublesome at the airport, but the extra privacy is so worth it.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @09:00PM (#51758081) Homepage

        What cash is, is something that can not be refused because it is your cash ie, how may I serve you today, oh you want to buy that loaf of bread, some milk and some baloney, sure and thank you for your money, oh wait the system says that money is shit because it's your money and I must refuse it, if it was someone else's that is OK but the banks have collectively decided that you can not eat today, please contact you nearest treasury officer for assistance.

        A pocket full of cash and you eat, a pocket full of credit cards and you ask permission to eat. That is exactly how anonymous cash is, you do not need to ask permission to fucking spend it, it can not be rejected just because it is yours (most glaring example of exactly that, racism) and when it comes to stealing it, it takes real effort, rather than curruptly shifting around bits to enrich the minority at the majorities expence in some of the biggest scandals in history.

        Also, don't ever forget, that the banks what to charge you too look after your money and pay not interest to use it for what ever they want to. Don't like that idea, tough fucking luck, we wont let you have that money we will only allow you to transfer it to one of our cartel members and charge a fee for that, so that then they can charge fees for gambling your money. The whole cashless society in capitalism thing is one huge scam, to basically enslave the majority.

        • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @12:24AM (#51758821)

          What cash is, is something that can not be refused because it is your cash ie, how may I serve you today, oh you want to buy that loaf of bread, some milk and some baloney, sure and thank you for your money

          Cash most certainly can be refused by a merchant. Legal tender just means that cash must be accepted for payment of debts. If a store lets me put a purchase on a tab and lets me leave with a product then they are required to accept cash later on if I want to settle that debt. But they are under no obligation to let me leave the store with the product in the first place because I offer cash. A store could have a policy that they only accept goats or squirrel skins or whatever. There's effectively a contract that is made during a payment and if I don't have whatever the store requests in exchange as a payment I have no right to demand that I get the product. Cash or not.

      • Could indeed - and it doesn't happen much. Except maybe, really maybe, at banks when depositing cash in the machines - the over-the-counter cash deposits just go in the drawer between the other notes. However when depositing foreign currency, like USD or EUR, I've experienced the bank marking the stack with whom deposited it for later checking for counterfeit notes.

        Next, you can pretty much keep tabs on who is recording incoming payments. For practical reasons, such scans will have to be done on the spot, i

      • by pete6677 ( 681676 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @09:25PM (#51758177)

        How will politicians collect their bribes if there is no more cash?

    • You know, actually anonymous instead of pseudo-not-really anonymous.

      Design suggestions?

      Pointers to existing "bitcoin 2.0 the actually anonymous version" projects?

      Bitcoin core developers are highly motivated to introduce better fungibility or privacy features to the blockchain. Right now a user can use Bitcoin in a mostly anonymous manner (Absolute anonymity doesn't exist) but must be careful and take several steps where these new features will further automate privacy. Some wallets already have some of these features built in like eliminating address reuse (unique addresses for every tx ) and coinjoin mixing services built in but we really want it done at the protoc

  • Be paranoid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bretts ( 2480008 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @07:31PM (#51757543)
    If you give government a power, it will use it -- for its own purposes. Government is a business that makes money for its employees by inventing new ways to control you. Sure, it sounds like guy who lives in a van down by the river talk. The media and the $200k per year professors disagree. But history is clear on this: government serves itself, in the name of your best interests. Be cautious :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by TapeCutter ( 624760 )

      Government is a business

      Yes, keep believing that, and when the US elect Trump as CEO it will finally have the government it deserves.

      • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

        by Anon-Admin ( 443764 )

        After seeing the choice between Hillary and Trump do you still think the Libertarian's are nuts? They are starting to look like the better choice.

    • Re:Be paranoid (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @02:50AM (#51759145)

      Rather than calling government a "business", I think perhaps it's a bit more accurate to say that both businesses and governments share a common ancestry - they're both massive bureaucratic organizations, filled with people who wish to acquire and use power for their own benefit. In both cases, this means a natural tendency toward expanding their scope of responsibilities in order to build fiefdoms wherever possible, hiring underlings to boss around, and building very deep organizational charts which are massively inefficient, but with lots of mini-empire-building opportunities all the way down the ranks.

      This isn't to say that there aren't good and decent people working in these organizations - most of them probably are, but in these sort of hierarchical structures, all you need is one asshole above you in the ranks to effectively negate all of your good intentions by issuing horrible directives and setting asinine rules and regulations.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      We could demand untraceable digital currency. There is no reason why something like a stored value contactless payment card couldn't make anonymous transactions. The value is stored on the card itself, no need to even send an ID really, just a cryptographic transaction to transfer money in a verifiable and tamper-proof way.

  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @07:31PM (#51757547)
    Cashless society means that Visa, Mastercard, and AmEx can impose sales tax on everyone in form of transaction fees.
    • Why aren't they under scrutiny for not competing. Their fees are in lock step, and rather outrageous compared to their actual costs. Sure does stink.

      • by guises ( 2423402 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @10:05PM (#51758391)
        Their merchant fees are not in lockstep. You don't hear about those because merchants are required by the card companies to absorb all of those costs themselves, they're not allowed to charge extra for credit payments. That's the biggest reason why some merchants will accept certain cards and not others though.
        • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
          Except instead of surcharging for credit, many places (especially gas stations) give "cash discounts."
      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        Take a look at the ridiculous amounts of money they're handing out to our political leadership. They throw around money by the bucketfuls to both sides of the aisle in congress. Good lord look at the money they've given Hillary Clinton, your next POTUS. Now you know why it smells so bad. It's rotten.

    • Except the fact is that I am paying LESS _AND_ it's more convenient, when I'm cashless.

      Yes, I know there are transaction fees, but _at each individual purchase_, I am paying the exact same(*) whether I pay with cash or a credit card. Since I get 2% back for all purchases on my credit card, I am in actuality paying 2% less, AND it's faster/more convenient (don't have to go to the ATM, don't have to carry change) than paying cash.

      Of course, I pay in full (automatically) every month, so as to not pay any inte

      • Simply that the fees are factored into the price and the merchant usually swallows the cost because that has become the accepted norm (not all do, airline flights for example do not). Effectively your 2% is being subsidised by cash payers.

        • airline flights for example do not). Effectively your 2% is being subsidised by cash payers.

          How do airline flights get beyond the laws against charging extra for credit cards? Do they do the gas station "trick" of giving a cash discount instead?

          Yup, I'm effectively being subsidized by cash payers. They should wise up too.

          I do realize, eventually, there may be direct fees for using credit cards. Then, I will decide on a case by case basis whether it's worth it (likely not).

          • How do airline flights get beyond the laws against charging extra for credit cards? Do they do the gas station "trick" of giving a cash discount instead?

            There is no such law. The credit card companies tried to limit this behavior contractually and lost in court not so long ago.

            The reason many don't charge extra for credit cards is that doing so is not worth the backlash.

            Yup, I'm effectively being subsidized by cash payers. They should wise up too.

            Everyone pays credit card tax whether they use cards or not. It is baked into cost of providing goods and services and substantially more than any crummy rewards programs.

            The only winners here are the banks. They are banking on our ignorance and indifference.

            • There is no such law. The credit card companies tried to limit this behavior contractually and lost in court not so long ago.

              I was wrong. There are no FEDERAL laws. There are, however, STATE laws. I was remembering (the gist of) California's, since I live here.

              From https://usa.visa.com/support/c... [visa.com]

              âoeNo retailerâ¦may impose a surcharge on a cardholder who elects to use a credit card in lieu of payment by cash, check or similar meansâ¦â
              Statute: Cal. Civ. Code  1748.1(a

      • Reality check. You believe that paying with a credit card does not cost more than cash? You may not see the cost as it may be charged to the store instead of you, but you pay in higher prices for all goods and services. In fact you not only pay higher costs for all goods and services because of a card, you pay for the theft on all of those insured cards.

        If the banks did not make money from cards do you think you would get them for free? How do you think they make money on those cards without collecting

        • Reality check. You believe that paying with a credit card does not cost more than cash? You may not see the cost as it may be charged to the store instead of you, but you pay in higher prices for all goods and services. In fact you not only pay higher costs for all goods and services because of a card, you pay for the theft on all of those insured cards.

          You clearly did not read the post you are responding to, because I clearly covered that issue in my original post.

        • by gfxguy ( 98788 )
          And yet if I pay cash I am still paying those higher prices and getting nothing in return. When you can convince everyone else to stop using credit/debit, then I'll join in.
        • Re:Wow, really? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by stoborrobots ( 577882 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @03:06AM (#51759179)

          You believe that paying with a credit card does not cost more than cash? You may not see the cost as it may be charged to the store instead of you, but you pay in higher prices for all goods and services.

          For a long time, I used to think like you did - that the merchant was getting ripped off to the tune of 1-2% when I paid by credit card.

          However, that was before taking into account the costs of handling cash - paying staff to count the cash twice a day, infrastructure/security to store cash safely overnight, paying staff to transfer cash safely to the bank regularly, potential costs of staff theft, arranging/maintaining sufficient float to give change to customers, sufficient security for float cash during the work day, etc.

          These are real costs on a business, which are not relevant for card transactions, and also get factored into the costs of goods and services.

          • by DogDude ( 805747 )
            These are real costs on a business, which are not relevant for card transactions, and also get factored into the costs of goods and services.

            Those costs are nowhere NEAR the 2-3% that CC's charge. Not even close.
    • Cashless society means that Visa, Mastercard, and AmEx can impose sales tax on everyone in form of transaction fees.

      Remember postal money orders, Western Union, Traveler's Checks? "Do not send cash, coins or stamps by mail." No free checking for accounts below a stiff minimum balance? Transaction fees were a big part of the cash society, and remain so for the poor.

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      You pay income tax which is used to pay for money to be printed. Why not pay the government to be the financial clearing house exchange? Yes these companies make a profit becase they can. The alternative is for banks to pay extra for clearance insurrance or to have you wait a week or two for transaction to clear. There's no magic fluidity. Commerce costs money, just hopefully not much.

  • DEC (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @07:36PM (#51757567)

    Slashdot's "Digital" category was actually created for stories related to the Digital Equipment Corporation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Equipment_Corporation hence the icon.
    Maybe the category needs to be retired, or given the number of stories that have erroneously had it applied to them, maybe the icon need to be changed.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @07:36PM (#51757571)

    Carefully consider the trade offs is more accurate.
    As with most changed they are new problems that needs to be minimized and benefits to take advantage of.
    Stories love to use fear. Real life is more boring and more able to plan and control.

    • Yeah, but the tinfoil hat guys ended up underestimating the mass surveillance the NSA was/is deploying against our citizenry. It is hard to see a situation where they would not do the exact same for fully traceable digital currency.

    • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock@NOSPAm.poetic.com> on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @11:47PM (#51758719)

      Fear is the correct word.

      Few living people are able to remember the days when a wheelbarrow of cash was needed to buy a week's groceries. In various parts of the world in various times, inflation has created this situation where the traditional currency became worthless. It can happen anywhere, anytime.

      The central banks who manage our financial experience can snap their fingers and put YOUR currency in that category. When that happens, you have to sell everything of value to get through the next month. When all the common people have released everything they hold dear to those who can pay (the 1%), the currency will normalize and they can buy their stuff back at the new (much higher) price.

      This boom/bust cycle has repeated itself through history and is one way to keep the bulk of humanity in debt to the (sing along with me) 'one percent'. Fear is the correct word as millions have already learned on their way to an early grave. Forget history and reap the consequences.

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @07:38PM (#51757589)

    Using paper money, backed by nothing, certainly requires a financial system.

    • Using paper money, backed by nothing, certainly requires a financial system.

      The gold bar at Fort Knox weighs about thirty pounds. Even in more manageable form, coin or bullion isn't practical for anything but the simplest of transactions. You need vaults, you need guards and armored couriers. You need standards of weight and measure.

      You need stability --- which means at the very least that someone has to regulate the amount of gold in circulation.

      The 1869 Black Friday financial panic in the United States was caused by the efforts of Jay Gould and James Fisk to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange. It was one of several scandals that rocked the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. When the government gold hit the market, the premium plummeted within minutes and many investors were ruined. Fisk and Gould escaped significant financial harm.

      Cornering The Market [wikipedia.org]

  • by sanf780 ( 4055211 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @07:55PM (#51757685)
    You know that cash value changes over time. Its value does not depend on gold reserves anymore. In the case of a zombie apocalypse or stock market crash, cash paper might become as valuable as toilet paper. Do you remember this African country, Zimbabwe? Its paper money became useless, so useless they had trillion dollar bills printed. So it is not a good idea to keep cash forever.
  • by knorthern knight ( 513660 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @07:58PM (#51757709)

    Operation Choke Point https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] is an illustration of what can happen. Porn actors, gun auctioneers, and other people that the government didn't like, suddenly found themselves denied bank accounts. The government's flimsy excuse was that these *MIGHT* be doing something illegal. This is on par with the IRS going after conservative non-profits.

    At least for now, people can still put cash under their matresses. Even so, the police often seize cash from individuals carrrying large amounts. But imagine what happens when there is no cash option. You can't get paid because you have nowhere to deposit your "money".

    Just because you're not a porn actor, or gun auctioneer, doesn't mean you're safe. "First they came for the porn actors, but I wasn't a porn actor... etc". Be very, very afraid.

    • by Anon-Admin ( 443764 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @09:48PM (#51758303) Homepage Journal

      They are doing it right now with the marijuana dispensaries in every state where it has been made legal.

      None of the accept credit cards because none of the credit card processors will accept them. This is because the federal government will hit them with money laundering charges due to it still being illegal at the federal level.

      I have experience with it, I ran a medical supply house for a few years and ever time I turned around the CC processor was locking my account and holding my funds. They would go look at the web site and see something that in there mind was "Drug paraphernalia" The last one was over 10cc syringes with a 1" 14g needle. They were for veterinary use, and the CC processor though someone could use it to shoot up drugs.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @08:02PM (#51757725) Journal

    I don't know any transsexual hookers who take bitcoin.

  • by bwanagary ( 522899 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @08:06PM (#51757747)

    When we have a cashless society we have slavery. Anyone who has deposited an out of town check has already discovered that you don't have the money right away. Oh, the bank where you deposited it has it that night. But you can't have it for up to 10 working days. This is called the "float". Banks "float" huge sums of money daily - your money - and lend it back to you and others at exorbitant interest rates. The banks, of course, keep those (up to 29% annually of the amount borrowed) interest collections. You can already, in the USA, transfer money only 10 times per month in the USA - even between your own accounts at the same bank. So already, you don't own your money and can't do with it what you please. You earned it. You've already paid taxes on your earning, but you still don't actually own what's left to do with as you please. You have restrictions on how much you can draw at a time etc. etc. Your money can be confiscated, blocked from usage and be divided by 1,000 overnight. Just ask anyone who lives in Argentina. You can literally go to bed a wealthy person, having worked fervently and saved your whole life, and wake up in the morning where every $100 you had in the bank is now only 10 cents. When your money is *completely* controlled electronically you are at the mercy of your government and the banks. Totally. You are effectively a hostage, if not a slave. I know, I've lived it already.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @08:06PM (#51757749) Journal
    The one nice thing about the 'cashless economy' is that(unlike a great many awful ideas) both its backers and its detractors actually largely agree on the reasons for why it will be awesome/awful; they just phrase them slightly differently. More commonly you have to deal with one or both sides fundamentally disagreeing on what the effects of the plan will be, which requires you to sort out the fact of the matter, rather than just disagreeing on whether the effects are good or not.

    The enthusiasts say "Hooray, saving the un-banked from their precarious existence and enabling access to financial services!" The detractors say "feeding the last holdouts and previously inaccessible markets into the maw of the financial service industry." They aren't actually disagreeing. The enthusiasts talk about the glorious transparency and ability to crack down on bribery, embezzlement, slush funds, and various similar things. The pessimists note the relentless and inescapable scrutiny and the ability to crack down on basically any flavor of transaction you don't much approve of. Again, not really a dispute over what the plan will do. Optimists extol the ease and convenience of frictionless electronic transacting without tedious stacks of paper. The less sanguine note that that's pretty much exactly what team Behavioral Econ says is the recipe to maximize impulse spending and consumer debt accumulation.
    • by Burz ( 138833 )

      You've already shown why your kneejerk false-equivalency presentation of the issue doesn't work: Its facile toward those who have been engaging in a one-way class war against working class people for decades.

      Optimists extol the ease and convenience of frictionless electronic transacting without tedious stacks of paper. The less sanguine note that that's pretty much exactly what team Behavioral Econ says is the recipe to maximize impulse spending and consumer debt accumulation.

      I know that was far from your intent, but you elevated "frictionless" economics to something real in order to suggest equivalence. The 1990s want their fallacies back.

    • The less sanguine note that that's pretty much exactly what team Behavioral Econ says is the recipe to maximize impulse spending and consumer debt accumulation.

      If you don't want to pay people enough for them to create the demand to keep the economy going, your options are to either have it crash or give them infinite credit.

  • by Falos ( 2905315 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @08:19PM (#51757833)
    Any given system over time is only going to be reconfigured over time to favor those with power. By those with power. In capitalism, power being money.

    This drift may be too subtle to notice, but it's obvious if you ponder the effect's foundation, not the effect's subtlety.

    I'm not trying to be moralistic, even the benefactors may be unaware in cases where it's just a natural consequence of the imbalance.

    This same line of reasoning identifies that giving more/all control to the financial services (banks) will see drift from the lopsided influence, the only debatable point being how much.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @08:25PM (#51757869)

    The fundamental problem is the "scourge" of crime.

    Unfortunately, we're in a state of Industrial level crime: from cartels, to terrorism, to state sponsored shenanigans.

    Most of these cash free laws aim at abetting crime. Cashless laws are supposed to stifle money laundering, ransoms, drug payments, gun payments, etc.

    Anonymous transactions enable criminal transactions.

    But free societies need to allow for crime, especially low grade crime. Nobody wants cartels, or terrorist groups, or even state sponsored shenanigans. But I do want to be able to pay people under the table for painting my fence. Or buying some weed on the street corner. Or buying a stolen stereo from the back of somebodies van.

    With the pervasive surveillance society, we can't prevent crime, but we can post-mortem hunt down the perpetrators. We can run the tape back. Watch the guy with the knife walk backwards out of the convenience store in to his car. The car drive backwards down the street. The broken window suddenly reassembling itself as the guy pulls the hammer out of it and walks backward to the back alley, where he rides his bicycle backwards to his house.

    But, we've been solving petty crimes like that forever using classic detective work and simply relying on people being people, and criminals being stupid.

    That pervasive surveillance that nailed this guy with a mouse click is so oppressive as to stifle the real creativity of society. The growth of society. The change of society.

    Adding money transfer tracking just broadens the net.

    Cartels and terrorism are social issues, not criminal issues. It's a different category of ill. But pervasive surveillance, is worse.

  • by Beeftopia ( 1846720 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @08:35PM (#51757935)

    NIRP = Negative Interest Rates, [cnbc.com] a situation where a central bank tries to push interest rates below zero (instead of getting interest on your savings, you pay the bank to hold your cash). The theory is that THIS is the thing that will force consumers to spend their wealth, and yadda yadda, the economy starts growing and adding jobs (the reason for the 2% inflation target is similar, to make debt more attractive as one can pay it off in less valuable currency, and to institute a "use it or lose it" tax which doesn't need to be voted on by the legislature).

    The PROBLEM is that if rates get too negative, then people will convert their wealth to cash. Large denomination bills enable that. That's why there has been a push on to eliminate the 100 dollar bill [washingtonpost.com], under the guise of battling terrorists and criminals. The head of the European Central Bank has recently proposed eliminating the 500 Euro note for the same reason. A happy coincidence is that this makes it harder for people to convert their wealth to cash.

    This won't be instituted all at once. This is how it is introduced, under a false casus belli.

    A cashless society means you are a captive audience to these sorts of experiments. Additionally, while cash doesn't require infrastructure to complete transactions, cashless transactions require a great deal of infrastructure. Buying something electronically means you are requesting permission to buy - either via authentication or other constraints.

    Humans have been using currency for thousands of years. Instead of hastily rushing to do away with it, we should approach the situation with a lot of caution. Something proponents most certainly do not want.

    Currency is already a logical construct. The slips of paper are inherently worth very little. They don't even function that well as toilet paper (not that I would know). Currency which becomes an electronic logical construct gives a tremendous amount of power to the people running the servers. And even more importantly perhaps, their cronies.

  • Web pages will take forever to load, not to mention my memory latency will shoot through the roof!
  • Because I will no longer be able to supplement my income by picking up pennies dropped on the pavement.
  • This article is very US Centric and ignores many facts and counterpoints, one of which is Canada, which is already a cashless society for all intents and purposes (were down to only 44% of transactions using cash and it falls by roughly 10% a year). Furthermore it makes the assumption that a cashless society incurs costs on the poor, when that is only true in the USA where undertaking of the poor is an epidemic and Visa and Mastercard have a vice grip on the debit card industry, charging high fees for merchants and consumers. Thesent are US specific problems, not problems with cashless societies in general.

    • This article is very US Centric and ignores many facts and counterpoints, one of which is Canada, which is already a cashless society

      No it isn't.

      Furthermore it makes the assumption that a cashless society incurs costs on the poor, when that is only true in the USA where undertaking of the poor is an epidemic and Visa and Mastercard have a vice grip on the debit card industry, charging high fees for merchants and consumers. Thesent are US specific problems, not problems with cashless societies in general.

      Wrong, Canadians use debit and credit cards. Same as the US with roughly same costs imposed on merchants.

      • Not only does Canada still run pretty heavily on cash, most businesses still accept American currency, which was rather surprising to me when I visited. (Although I do think they accept it at 1:1, which means you're getting less value for your money than you would if you exchanged it for Canadian dollars first.)
  • The trouble is...

    * Who is going to buy a $500,000 house with cash - who is going to be stupid enough to hide that kind of money under the mattress?
    * Transporting large sums of cash around is great for criminals.
    * Physical money isn't secure - applying ink to paper is something that is going to get increasingly easy as technology improves and stamping out disks of metal isn't happening because it's hard to do it cheaply enough to profitably with =$1 coins.
    * Physical money is still backed by someone - it only

  • by zenlessyank ( 748553 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @10:19PM (#51758457)
    You WILL embrace it. For it is written, for it is done. You can toss all the hunnerd dolla bills at your monitor all you want. Amazon won't send you shit.
  • by rossdee ( 243626 )

    Platinum

    It has more uses than gold, especially in chemical reactions..

  • Cashless society make several crimes no longer feasible, provided it is done with traceable transactions, not anonymous ones like bit coin. Bank robbery? A little silly if it involves transferring credits from the banks account to the criminal's account, doesn't it?
  • So many comments and so few mentions of the mark of the beast?

    What people value in money is the ability to spend it as they wish. A cashless economy removes this freedom. This will drive people to seek other means of trade. Expect barter, silver, gold, bit-coin, soup cans, laundry detergent bottles, whatever.

    I heard some people discuss alternative currencies on late night talk radio not too long ago and the expert they had brought up several means to bypass reserve notes and coins. The topic was not on a cashless society exactly but more generally about the value we place in government issued money.

    One thing mentioned in this talk show was the potential use of currency from another country. There are laws already existing in the USA protecting the right of people to keep foreign bank notes. For a cashless society to work then laws like this would have to be repealed to prevent people from just using Euros or whatever, not that it'd prevent it completely but it would drive it underground.

    As mentioned in the article there's just too many transactions where electronic transfers just aren't suitable. There's a lot of charities and such that live on small cash transactions, we even have a name for them, "a penny drive".

    Oh, and the biblical reference to a mark of the beast will cause a problem with a lot of people.

  • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @11:58PM (#51758757)
    This isn't a theoretical, academic problem. In 2013, the Cyprus government made a shock announcement, stating that they would be taking a "one-off" 'bailout levy' of 10% from any accounts over a certain balance value. Article on BBC News here:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worl... [bbc.co.uk] This was proposed because Cyprus, like Greece, had a failing economy and owed the European Central Bank some $13 Billion as part of a loan repayment. The economy was tanking, the government didn't have the tax revenue, so they decided to go after the savers. The really wealthy in Greece kept their money off-shore and were not hit, but ex-pats from other EU nations could have been hammered if this went through. The interesting thing was that before the proposal was announced the Cypriot government put rules in place to prohibit people withdrawing their cash [since that would have started a run on the banks]. We should not underestimate the danger of this proposal.
  • This idea was part of the plot of Margaret Atwood's excellent The Handmaid's Tale.

    The story is about a post war world in which fertility has plummeted due to the use of chemical weapons (I think), and the US is now run by an ultra-conservative christian authoritarian government (think a Christian version of Saudi Arabia), and the limited number of fertile women are essentially "breeders" (the Handmaids of the title), slaves who bare children for the ruling elite. It's a fantastic dystopian novel.

    The authoritarian regime that controls the US in the story did away with cash. Then at a later point they simply suspended women's access to any kind of payment system. Without recourse to cash they were utterly powerless. I've always felt The Handmades Tale was a far scarier book than 1984 (which is also great), because it seemed much more plausible, especially as such societies essentially already exist.

    Unlike some of her other books, The Handmaid's Tale is a short and quick read, well worth an evening or two.

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