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August 13, 2012


John Candido

There is no stopping the evolution to a cashless society. It will be a convergence of the internet, credit and debit cards that have Visa PayWave & MasterCard PayPass, American Express cards that have ExpressPay, and a smart phone that can be used in much the same way as a credit or debit card with PayWave, PayPass, or ExpressPay. These developments will eventually consign cash to history. Our smart phones will contain every debit and credit card we own, as well as all of our discount vouchers and receipts in digital form. As a result, there will not be any need to carry any more bits of paper in our wallets. Google will produce a Google wallet, Visa will have an e-wallet, MasterCard, Square, and PayPass will all offer a similar product, as well. These products are called virtual wallets.

I don’t think that plastic cards will be eliminated in future. When a power blackout or some other inevitable technical issue occurs, plastic cards can be imprinted mechanically with paper, or some other technology will be developed to record the transaction perfectly. Placing barcodes on all plastic cards that are read by a barcode reader that is powered by some other means could possibly perform this service.

I am absolutely confident that we are on the verge of a tipping point regarding the eventual elimination of cash from our economy. As long as there is a national regime of privacy legislation, the security and integrity of the internet is assured, powerful institutions such as state and federal governments will seek and obtain taxes in full in future. This will help to fund our treasury and help to pay for community infrastructure, the operation of federal and state departments, all government projects, and policy developments. In addition, governments will not have to bear the cost of printing, manufacturing, storing, and transporting cash.

What I think will happen is that we will have a de facto cashless society first, where a majority of transactions will be done without cash, both in numbers of transactions and in the quantity of money involved. We will probably have a de facto cashless society in about 5 years. After a period of a further 30 to 40 years, or somewhere thereabouts, cash will be eliminated from our economy after the nation has had a plethora of free and wide-ranging debates about this issue.

It will be convenient not to have to ask for and carry any more paper receipts or physical discount vouchers, because they will be emailed to our mobile phones and personal computers. How incredible, powerful, and efficient will both Visa's, Google's, Square’s and PayPass’s virtual wallets be, once they become commonplace? Can the banking system adapt and catch-up? That is a rhetorical question. A cashless society is in every bank’s financial interest.

Police and intelligence agencies will advocate a cashless society in order to limit or prevent crimes associated with cash. Cash always provides criminal anonymity as in the drug trade, terrorism, burglaries, organised crime, illegal gun running, and cash thefts. The crime of counterfeiting money will be completely eliminated. The black economy is based on the criminal anonymity that cash allows. This will dissipate when physical cash is removed from society. An important part of the elimination of criminal anonymity in the future will be making emerging digital or virtual currencies illegal.

A cashless society is one where greenhouse gasses are kept to a minimum. A society with cash is embedded to a polluting infrastructure. The manufacture of cash requires the transportation and use of raw materials in manufacturing processes, with the final product transported to financial institutions. Apart from the obvious risk to society from criminals, the transport of cash in security vans leads to greater air pollution in our communities. This is not counting people who desire to make either a deposit or withdrawal to their accounts throughout the nation on a daily basis.

A cashless society does not have to be the policy of any political party or government instrumentality. It does not have to be something that is forced on any nation that is not broadly accepting and ready for it. It should only be achieved after a plethora of wide-ranging national debate. It will broadly come of its own accord through technological development. The public will increasingly demand its security, integrity, and its many conveniences such as reduced queuing time for payments using payWave, PayPass, or ExpressPay, with a plastic card or mobile phone.

Not only will a cashless society make paying at any retail point a quicker process, it will also make payment cues either shorter in length or non-existent. RFID, which stands for ‘Radio Frequency Identification’, will eliminate cues altogether. RFID will be adopted by supermarket chains in future. All that a customer has to do is to load up their trolley with what they want to purchase, and simply walk out to their car without going through any checkout process involving staff. RFID will accurately note what has been taken out of store by a specific customer, tally each item, charge the goods to the customer, and email a receipt to the customer’s mobile phone or computer.

Banks and most businesses will want a cashless society because it will substantially lower their costs, by not having to deal with cash on a daily basis. There will not be any need to count, store, or transport cash. This will engender all banks and businesses to operate more safely and enjoy lower cost overheads as well.

A cashless society will be evolutionary, convenient, and unstoppable. In combination, all of these factors will prove irresistible for most if not all modern economies. They will prove fatal for the continued existence of cash, the more we move towards the future. A cashless society will provide a plethora of social and economic advantages, relative to a society that maintains cash.

Jon Matonis

Please see the Stowe Boyd article to bring some balance to this type of thinking:

Cash Is Essential For A Free Society

John Candido

I have read the above link and have quoted from it in my reply to it.

‘Cash is a prerequisite of a free society, while enacting a system without anonymous cash is only attractive to the government and moralists.’

Cash has existed before democratic societies were created. Cash exists in non-democratic societies such as China and North Korea. Cash has also existed in past totalitarian societies such as the USSR. It is not that cash is a prerequisite of a free society but that private property is a prerequisite of a free society, and cash can be in a digital form and owned by someone. A cashless society is attractive to individuals that like the convenience and security of purchasing goods without using cash. You don’t have to be a moralist to enjoy a cashless society. You can enjoy a cashless society because it embodies practical commonsense.

‘And who does such a system benefit? Not the part-time sex worker, trying to make ends meet in a down economy. Not the bellman at the airport, whose tips might disappear after the transition to cards. Not the homeless guy I gave $2 to the other day, or the busker playing guitar in the train station. Or the Green Peace folks collecting coins at the park.’

Cashless person to person transactions enabled by mobile phones, alone or in combination with credit or debit cards, can do all of the above.

‘The ones that benefit are those selling the cards and the readers. And the policy-makers who want to see the flow of cash to find — supposedly — drug lords and terrorists, but secretly want to know everything about everybody.’

All of society will benefit with the introduction of a cashless society. All sorts of crime will go down or disappear, the economy will be better off as governments will collect what is owed to them in taxes, and individuals and families will be better off because they can transact with confidence and in far greater safety. Such a society must only be introduced after a considerable amount of free debate.

‘But we have the right to privacy in our doings. We don’t have to say why we want privacy: it is our right.’

Absolutely correct! Our privacy is a human right. Humans cannot function normally without privacy. A cashless society must only be introduced after a national regime of privacy legislation is enacted.

‘…In the meantime, people slip into the shadow world to buy a bag (marihuana). And they are justified, since laws that are enacted without regard to science and health — that are ideological and repressive — are illegitimate, and the people have the right to run around them.’

Current scientific studies have suggested that marihuana use is not harmless and can be associated with the development of schizophrenia in some individuals who have a predisposition to it. Apart from this, society will one day become enlightened and legalise and regulate all drugs. Until that day, purchasing drugs on the street is feeding organised criminal gangs.

‘…if we contort our free and open societies to counter terrorists’ use of cash, they have won.’

The terrorists don’t win if we have another legitimate means to track and prevent terrorism beforehand, or to apprehend terrorists after the act.

‘If the authorities start rounding up all the money, and begin distributing smartcards, it’s time to rally in the streets.’

It shouldn’t get to this stage if there is free debate throughout any nation-state.

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