Many people think a cashless society would solve many problems like reduce crime and be the ultimate in convenience. However, some realities of a cashless society are quite troubling. The age of the credit card has made a cashless society a huge possibility, but some problems remain that need some careful consideration.
Example of a Cashless Society
Sweden is one of the first countries to adopt a quasi-cashless model. Cash in Sweden only represents about 1% of all the money spent on a day-to-day basis. There have been many benefits for people, but there are also downsides for Swedes. While it might seem to be working on the surface, the government of Sweden is facing some concerns and trying to create alternatives to what is happening now.
The main problem is that the Swedish government is losing its grip on the currency. Money that was printed by the central bank, is now being processed by private corporations. This has led to concerns that those corporations could violate people’s civil rights. The Swedish government decided to issue the e-krona as a digital alternative to privately-owned credit cards and debit cards. For governments, this represents one of the major roadblocks to a cashless society.
Government Tracking Gets Easier
The primary issue with a cashless society is that every transaction is tracked. While this is positive in killing off illegal activity, it might not be positive for people looking to live their lives far away from the watchful eye of the government and other private corporations. You automatically leave a paper trail when you shop using any cashless system, so the government could easily track you and use that information against you. Private corporations can also use the data they collect from your transactions to create detailed psychological reports on you. These psychological reports can be used in the future to manipulate or even intimidate you. It creates a dystopian situation where you have no freedoms and are bound by the state and private corporations.
Certain Vendors Are Shut Out of the Economy
The downside for a select number of vendors is that they will be shut out of the economy. For example, in rural areas, there might be problems getting the infrastructure needed to support a cashless society. In such cases, a considerable number of people and companies would get shut out of the economy. This can cause an area that is already doing pretty badly to get even worse.
Fraud Gets Easier
While it is more difficult to steal a credit card, it is a lot easier to hack bank details and commit fraud. This is a significant issue today, and it will only get worse with a digital economy. Hackers can put viruses and other malware on someone’s mobile phone, and then they can capture details such as credit card information. A cashless society will make a significant portion of its users prone to this type of fraud. Cybercrime becomes rampant, and it could potentially be a factor in how quickly a cashless society is adopted.
Living Without Technology Gets Harder
For those who want to live a free and natural life, it will be almost impossible in a cashless society. For example, those people who want to stay away from electronics and other gadgets will find it impossible to purchase groceries or other goods. If government payments are cashless, these people will need to be integrated into the system to pay their taxes. Such a basic requirement might prove a huge stumbling block for a lot of people.
Controlling Your Spending Gets Harder
Almost every study shows people are more willing to spend more money when they have a credit card. When you pay with cash, there is an almost physical pain in your brain that comes from losing that money. However, your brain reacts differently when you use a credit or debit card. It turns spending money into a video game, and the majority of people don’t feel the same pain as when they have to spend their hard-earned cash.
Loss of Freedom and Privacy
A private corporation will control your destiny in a cashless society. An example of company morality shoved down the public throat is banks blocking the gun sales. This has extremely dangerous repercussions for freedom and civil rights. For example, one of those companies could ban you from their service, which would shut you out of the digital economy.
In a cashless society, almost every transaction has a fee associated with it. Companies like Visa and MasterCard charge a processing fee that falls on the merchant. However, the merchant shifts that fee to the customer in the form of higher prices. This is a significant issue in a cashless society. It means that people will have to pay more money for the same goods, and they will be at the whims of private corporations who control all the infrastructure needed to go cashless. A cashless future might mean government intervention and a new digital currency. It might be the only way to ensure that every person gets access and cannot be banned by a private corporation.
The Swiss Have Gone Back to Cash
Meanwhile in Switzerland, the 1000 Franc note has been reintroduced, and card transactions are only about a third of the volumes seen in comparative-sized Britain and Canada.
For them the main driver has been privacy. It all started with cashless train travel cards and their concern that the government would keep an eye of their travel patterns.