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China The Almighty Buck Businesses Cellphones Software Technology

China Is On Track To Fully Phase Out Cash (vice.com) 212

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via Motherboard: Experts believe it won't be long before China, the first country to introduce paper money, becomes the first to go totally cashless. In a poky sex toy shop in Sanlitun shopping district in central Beijing, a placard with a QR code is strategically placed next to a pink, vein-knobbled dildo called the Super Emperor, and a clitoral pump. Just scan your phone, and walk out with your purchase. The cigarette vendor across the street accepts smartphone payments too. A fast-moving queue of customers purchase smokes by scanning their phones over a tatty cardboard QR code. All the bars in Sanlitun, equal parts seedy and swish, still take cash, but have likewise implemented cashless pay, largely through the ubiquitous WeChat and Alipay app, as primary payment platforms. Beijing taxi drivers accept smartphone payments too. No one in the area uses physical money, for sex toys or otherwise. Largely due to China's vibrant fintech landscape, the recent rise of phone payments in the country has shunted cash onto the endangered list, perhaps somewhere alongside the pangolin. Many experts believe it won't be long before China, the first country to introduce paper money, also becomes the first to phase it out to become fully cashless. But when will this moment come?
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China Is On Track To Fully Phase Out Cash

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  • by I kan Spl ( 614759 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @11:41PM (#54409119) Homepage

    Also known as "China wants us to believe that China Is On Track To Fully Phase Out Cash".

    I've toured rural China with my Wife's family. Most folks outside the big cities only have power during the day, unless they are lucky and own a generator.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Please specific the time of your visit. Twenty years ago, maybe.

      • by RightwingNutjob ( 1302813 ) on Saturday May 13, 2017 @01:59PM (#54411167)
        Two years ago. Getting off the shiniest subway train in the newest and modernest part of Shanghai, the biggest city on Earth, right next to the glittering sky scrapers and high end shops, were street merchants toting their wares in hand-made wicker baskets slung to their backs with ropes and pushing crudely-made hand-carts.

        One renmibi banknote with a smiling portrait of Chairman Mao says they're not in a position to give up their paper currency any time soon.
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday May 13, 2017 @12:18AM (#54409227)

      I've toured rural China with my Wife's family.

      In which century? China's economy has risen eight-fold in the last few decades. You might want to visit again.

      Most folks outside the big cities only have power during the day

      Nonsense. There may be a few remote villages that still use generators, but that is not "most people". For 99% of Chinese, grid electricity is available and reliable.

      Their payment system doesn't rely on wall-power anyway. It is based on phones and the cellular network, which, btw, is faster, more reliable, and more ubiquitous than it is in America.

      I was in Shanghai earlier this year, and I hired a handyman to fix my toilet. When he was finished, he popped up a QR code on his phone, I scanned it with my phone, and the bill was paid.

      • Their payment system doesn't rely on wall-power anyway. It is based on phones

        Oh? Then how are the phones charged? Magical pixie dust?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        sorry bill but this is just not true.

        I too lived in Shanghai. But China is a big country and it is a huge difference between Shanghai and some of the smaller inland cities. Not to mention real rural areas.

        And even in Shanghai, cash is prevalent, more than in the EU city I now live. The main reason to use electronic payments is the nuisance of paying any significant amount with 100 RMB bills.

        But try to go to a lokal market as any not upper middle class native and you will see cash everywhere.

      • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Saturday May 13, 2017 @10:50AM (#54410555) Homepage Journal

        "In which century? China's economy has risen eight-fold in the last few decades. You might want to visit again."

        This fucking century. I do tons of business with China and once you get outside the major city areas it's fucking dirt poor rural areas.

        Perhaps you should try looking for real Chinese culture instead of sticking your ass in the metro areas.

    • I did that last year too. I went to some very poor places that were pretty isolated. Often I was in a room where the only furniture was a table, a lamp, stools, and a 42" flatscreen. Familys will make big sacrifices for the flatscreen and it always ran.
    • This has nothing to do with modernity, other than it is the dictator's Holy Grail of being able to track all financial transactions, and specifically, those of competitors to power.

  • by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @11:44PM (#54409125)

    Phasing out cash is a great tool for every totalitarian system. Because then, you can only pay for something if you actually are allowed to by the government. Also, it allows for total big brother like surveillance.

    The new tools that technology gives us allow for real strict totalitarian regimes, and it seems that China is seizing the opportunity.

    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday May 13, 2017 @12:25AM (#54409243)

      Phasing out cash is a great tool for every totalitarian system.

      China is not totalitarian. They are authoritarian. There is a difference.

      As long as they don't challenge authority, Chinese people actually have greater freedom to go about their lives than Americans do: Americans are four times more likely to be arrested and incarcerated by their government.

      • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Saturday May 13, 2017 @12:40AM (#54409287)

        I imagine a small proportion of black slaves in America were arrested and incarcerated, as well. That's hardly the only measure of freedom, however.
        "So long as you freely allow authoritarians to dictate what you can and can't do, without resisting or protesting" is a pretty big exception to freedom.

        • "So long as you freely allow authoritarians to dictate what you can and can't do, without resisting or protesting" is a pretty big exception to freedom.

          Authoritarians do not "dictate what you can and can't do". That is "totalitarianism" and China is nothing like that. Chinese people are free to travel abroad, change jobs, associate with whoever they want, live where they want. The main difference between them and Americans is that they have less reason to fear the police.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Great, so instead of getting a trial by jury, I am most likely to lose at great cost and expense for growing a coca or cannabis plant or poppy pod, I am likely to skip the 'fair trial' and go right to the organ harvesting.

            Sounds like an improvement...

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

        I think you're making a distinction without a difference. "as long as they don't challenge authority" applies to both countries. The question is in how restrictive the authorities are.

        • The question is in how restrictive the authorities are.

          Indeed. That is why I specifically mentioned that the risk of having your door kicked down in the middle of the night, and the police hauling you off to jail is four times higher in America.

          • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

            Yes, I suppose as long as you confine your activities to working your 18hr shift at foxconn like a good socialist cog and never rock the boat, everything's 'great.' Your stat is meaningless, if it's even accurate, because the countries are not on even keel when it comes to human rights and civil liberties.

      • >Americans are four times more likely to be arrested and incarcerated by their government.

        Because American police does its job better

    • by mentil ( 1748130 )

      Bitcoin would like to have a word with you.

      • Bitcoin would like to have a word with you.

        Bitcoin is not different in any way. Was that your point? Because if not, ROFL.

    • That's when members of a community go "fuck it", and start bartering. None of that labor then gets tracked and/or collected on in the form a tax.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Cyberax ( 705495 )
      Oh, seriously. Stop that crap. Government doesn't care a shit if you buy bunny-fur bondage gear or pay strippers. And by paying in cash and carrying a gun you don't fight oppression, you're just being an idiot.

      Nope. Real fights for freedom are won and lost at courts, political rallies and in elected offices.
      • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

        Sometimes courts, rallies, and elections don't work (eg: this last one).

        • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
          And so you're going to pay cash to fix that. Yeah, right.
          • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

            Who said 'just' paying cash will 'fix' the problem of governmental abuse? It can help mitigate the problem by denying the opportunity for mass abuse in the first place. No one said it was a total solution. Same thing with weapons, though they're usually brought out when people are at their wits end, en masse.

            Sounds like you're more interested in punching holes in bad left wing stereotypes of the right than anything else.. Strawmen are so boring.

      • by nukenerd ( 172703 ) on Saturday May 13, 2017 @06:32AM (#54409967)

        Government doesn't care a shit if you buy bunny-fur bondage gear or pay strippers.

        But my wife does, and she sees the credit card bills.

      • Government doesn't care a shit if you buy bunny-fur bondage gear or pay strippers.

        But it's convenient to have that information and be able to use it to blackmail and/or put pressure on someone if it's convenient for them. For example, threatening to let the wife know, or simply discrediting someone by exposing their furry hobbies to the public at large.

        Besides which, you assume that just because something's legal now it won't be made illegal. Not because the government gives a damn about that issue in itself, but because- again- it's convenient to be able to hold these "crimes" over pe

        • It's simpler than that. If a central authority controls all payment, they can eliminate you simply by removing you from the system. You can't eat, you can't buy anything, you can't travel. you have no way to pay anyone.

    • by freax ( 80371 ) on Saturday May 13, 2017 @03:50AM (#54409699) Homepage

      Phasing out cash is a great tool to get alternative barter systems going. Human nature evolves around restrictions like a non-anonymous payment system.

      In prison, for example, and during wartime, too, are packs of cigarettes a fine means of payment. Tobacco doesn't quickly go bad, you can divide a pack easily into smaller parts in case of smaller transactions and the barter even comes with a box to hold the small cash amounts together. The box makes it easy to count. And it's a commonality in prison. Thus, great as exchange of value when selling and buying contraband.

      In total wartime, same thing. If cash leaves, other barter systems replace it. Immediately.

      If digital currency replaces anonymous cash, and the digital currency is not guaranteed to be anonymous (if criminals can't use it); it'll get replaced. Immediately. I expect there to be alternative barter systems in China already. They will grow in popularity the moment it's no longer possible to pay and sell anonymously with the national currencies of China.

      • Phasing out cash is a great tool to get alternative barter systems going.

        Mod this up. Bartering will spring up inevitably within any "cashless" society.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Indeed. When recently the EU started phasing out 500 EUR bills "to fight terrorism", the lie was made immediately obvious when the Swiss National Bank made a statement that they a) saw no reason to phase out 1000 CHF notes (around 900 EUR) and that b) 1000 CHF bills had various legitimate use for example when buying a car with cash or when buying livestock.

      The whole phasing out of cash is just an attempt to remove power from the citizens.

  • by p51d007 ( 656414 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @11:45PM (#54409131)
    Hard currency gives a person SOME freedom over goods and services they purchase. Make all transactions digital, no matter what, and the banks and governments can control what you buy, how much of it or denies it. Once it goes digital, the government can change a stupid law, tying anything to "healthcare". Sorry Bob...you last health check shows you to be 25 pounds over what WE SAY you should weigh...you can't buy that burger and fries, but we will let you buy a tofu salad and a glass of water (at double the price). Sorry Jill...according to our records, you have 2 accidents within the past year, both in SUV's, plus, you are spending way too much on fuel. You can't buy this new SUV, but, we have authorized purchase of a bicycle, and, your loan has been approved, but not for that house in the country. We think it would be best, if you have a smaller cramped apartment, near your job, so you can bicycle to work. This will also cut your carbon footprint, and help you exercise. Laugh now, but don't say it won't happen.
    • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
      Seriously? That would simply mean that there's going to be a cottage industry of proxy purchases. And a sufficiently stupid evil government can do all the activities from your list right now, no need for all-electronic transactions.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @11:46PM (#54409139)

    The author is hung up on sex toys - and possibly cigarettes.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @11:47PM (#54409143) Homepage Journal
    The people will immediately need to replace cash with some other token based system which will effectively become cash. It is not in the public's interest to phase out cash, it is about government control. How do you give your child pocket money? Tip to a beggar? Etc. etc. There are millions of situations where cash is best and a cashless society is not better in any way unless you are amongst the super rich or elite and making such decisions.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cyberax ( 705495 )

      How do you give your child pocket money?

      Send it to their phone. Children can use WePay just as well as adults.

      Tip to a beggar?

      Get rid of beggars.

      There are millions of situations where cash is best

      Not really, apart from illegal drug purchases.

      • by GNious ( 953874 )

        Tip to a beggar?

        Get rid of beggars.

        Might be wrong, but was told from a few sources that handing cash/goods to a beggar is illegal in China.

      • >> How do you give your child pocket money?
        >
        > Send it to their phone. Children can use WePay just as well as adults.

        Lemeesee... after all the fighting to prevent kids (and their parents) from being ripped off with "in-game purchases", you now want your kid running around with a debit/credit card, or a phone hooked up to your credit card?!? No thanks. I'm sure that cellphone companies would just ***LOVE*** to have every family with a husband and wife and 2 kids end up with 4 cellphone accounts. A

    • According to the article:

      "Outside the capital, beggars have been spotted with QR codes hanging around their necks to accept digital donations."

      Probably Obama-phones or something.

  • Bitcoin, anyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FrankHaynes ( 467244 ) on Friday May 12, 2017 @11:53PM (#54409167)

    It's what the cool kids use to pay.

  • Warning! The summary contains gratuitous product placement, designed to entice us to read the article. Still, I guess if a flower shop was accepting cashless transactions, it wouldn't be as interesting, would it?
  • Experts believe it won't be long before China, the first country to introduce paper money, becomes the first to go totally cashless.

    Many experts believe it won't be long before China, the first country to introduce paper money, also becomes the first to phase it out to become fully cashless.

    You managed to dupe your own article within itself, is that a record?

  • So everyone is just ok with paying an extra 3% per transaction? On top of taxes?

  • That is a huge win (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dschiptsov ( 4126095 ) on Saturday May 13, 2017 @01:53AM (#54409475) Homepage
    for the parasitic middlemen, sorry, payment platforms. I am really too stupid to get why people are willing to be dependent of a third party (who takes its percentage) in their payments in cases when banks aren't necessary to be involved. But, of course, smartphones are so cool, let's use them for everything.
    • I believe that the governments would have already taken care of payment platforms and made sure that something like this is a must have for phones tablets, almost like the emergency calling

      Also, how would China be ahead of India in this regard? India started last year by getting rid of its biggest denomination notes, and the public, rather than risk seeing their money rendered worthless, quickly jumped on the e-money bandwagon. All India needs to do is phase out their remaining denominations - 100 &

      • All I remember reading is what a huge nightmare it was, people running around in India looking for cash, empty ATMs, people lining up, etc.

  • China ... also becomes the first to phase it out to become fully cashless. But when will this moment come?

    If I had to guess, I would say that time is when officials stop accepting bribes and criminals stop trying to sell stolen goods. But the real and final end to cash is when the drug dealers accept cards, don't mind having a fully auditable trail of their transactions and start giving receipts.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      As the whole drug-dealing business is just a result of artificial scarcity imposed by the religious fuckups that think they can dictate what others can and cannot enjoy, this will eventually happen.

  • It's amazing how outdatet and steam-agey 1984 seems from a 2017 perspective. The encroachment on total control of the individual would be beyond anything imaginable 30 years ago if this Smartphone Cash thing gains foothold and pushes cash away.

    It's definitely a pressing time to get a good look into cryptocurrency.

    My 2 eurocents (cash).

  • When something like the WannaCry affects the finance systems, and there is no cash, how will people get the immediate basics like their groceries?
    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      The later this happens, the larger the catastrophe. Stupidity, nativity and greed will make sure it will happen. Technology these days is nowhere near as secure as it needs for this to be dependable enough to perform a critical function.

  • "Cashless" society" means that 3% of the entire economy goes to Visa/MC. It would be the largest corporate handout in history.
  • In the US if we tracked what people spend we would find that many spend more than they possibly can explain and have some sort of tax avoidance or crime going on. if spending data is tracked and weighed against earnings reported as well as expenses on credit cards and loans we will have to find a way to deal with tens of millions of criminals. For example, there are people who make a living burglarizing automobiles. They sell what they steal and have no way at all to account for how they get by in l
    • The government won't go crazy strictly enforcing laws on the population using data from cashless transactions. They don't want people to stop buying drugs, paying bookies, strippers, etc. As "Dr. Ferris" says in "Atlas Shrugged" in his monologue to Reardon: "We *want* these laws to be broken...when one doesn't have enough criminals one makes them...you cash in on guilt."

      They just want the data so that if someone becomes "inconvenient" all it takes is a brief perusal of the target's transaction history to fi

  • They will run into severe security issues sooner or later. Especially mobile phone security is so bad these days it is staggering. My guess would be that at the moment, these payments do not offer enough pay-off if hacked, but that can change at any time.

  • How do they expect people to not just walk out with goods? You can't put antitheft on everything. Next step is all stores replaced by vending machines and then the lines will just come back again anyway. Facial recognition for security cameras only work on white Europeans. On top of which, tech companies act like they can use AI to detect whether or not your a "risk," so good luck buying anything if you're just having a bad day. And by going cashless, your government can bankrupt you in a heartbeat because
  • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Saturday May 13, 2017 @01:20PM (#54411043)

    For any who think this would be a grand idea, consider how it can / will be abused.

    Examples:
    Every single purchase will be indexed and analyzed for whatever purpose. From the things you like, to the foods you eat, to hobbies you enjoy. Folks like Google have an orgasm every time they think about such a system. Make no mistake, it will be for sale / available to those with the funds for it and it will most certainly be used against you if / when the need arises.

    Governments can effectively control your behavior because to step out of line in any way means they can just freeze your accounts and too bad if you have bills to pay or would like to eat this month. Perhaps you are identified in taking part in a protest they don't wish to see. Maybe they don't like your online opinions which run contrary to their own. Maybe you're a whistle blower. Etc. Etc.

    Just KNOWING they can shut your life down by freezing your only financial means to survive will have a chilling effect on your behavior and you'll be far less likely to step out of line.

    They want to watch and control every single aspect of your life at all times. What you watch, what you say / believe, down to how you act and think. Privacy of any kind does not mesh well with how they would prefer things to be.

    You've read the above using your own government as a variable in the equation. Now replace your government with one that may not be quite as tolerant. Imagine what such a regime would do with this sort of system in place. You think you know what oppression is ? It would pale in comparison to what it will become.

    Think of it as a Gorilla sized version of PayPal. Where if you do ANYTHING they disagree with, ( and the TOS can change with every new administration ) they simply shut off access to your funds. Only, this time, there isn't any alternative for you to fall back on and you're just SOL. Your life is effectively over until you agree to play the game by their rules. ( regardless if you agree with them or not )

    I think I would prefer to keep the cash option available.

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