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Big banks, business and lobbies want you to get rid of cash and of everything it means to you… and actually, they don’t really care if you like it or not.
Historically, every country in the world has used cash and coins for goods and services, and physical money has always represented a country’s pride and DNA. But several countries have decided to move towards a cashless economy, and they seem not to want to involve their citizens in that decision.
The idea is simple – make people believe that cash didn’t really belong to them to begin with. Like a passport, it never really belonged to you, your government just lent it to you. And if they decide to become a “cashless country,” you don’t really have a say in the matter. But some people throughout the world are already taking a stand against these lobbyists.
Among the lobbyists, many banks are of course pushing towards a cash-free future, as they would benefit from the fees on almost each and every electronic/online transaction a customer would make. Credit card and security chip manufacturers are also supporting doing away with cash. For them, no cash means more cards, and therefore more business.
Besides them, big companies are increasingly getting into electronic payments and banking. In the past years, almost each and every major internet player had introduced online payment solutions – think Apple Pay and Google Wallet. They would also greatly benefit from a cashless future, without showing much concern about their users’ privacy basic rights.
One major argument of the “anti-cash lobbyists” is: “safety”. The problem is that in the past several years and as cash usage decreased in many countries, we have seen an increase in criminal activity among electronic and online payment methods. The “anti-cash” groups have taken advantage of this reality, which basically allows government to make any reform as long as it’s supposedly to “increase security.” Denmark for instance has come up with a proposal to make it legal for many businesses to refuse cash by this years.
The proposal was part of the “economic growth measures” package. According to the anti-cash groups, it aims to reduce costs and increase productivity for Danish businesses. Yet no study has proven that tendency works in a cashless society. Finansradet, a Danish finance industry lobbying group says the change would “free retailers from the cost of security, and the burden of managing change and notes,” (1) but even among retailers, the decision isn’t received unanimously, and many fear to lose business while not even coming close to prevent or end fraud altogether.
Denmark is currently facing its biggest tax fraud case ever, which happened last year as more and more of Denmark’s tax authority system went online. The damage could be up to 804 million euros and the investigation is still ongoing. Karsten Lauritzen, Denmark’s Minister of taxation even declared that it would be hard for Denmark to get that money back, as the online fraud had crossed its borders. “We’ve succeeded in tracking some of the money to the U.K.,” Lauritzen said in an interview in Copenhagen. “But getting that money back and proving it belongs to Denmark will be a struggle. I’m really not very optimistic.” (2) Since then, many Danes are increasingly reticent of electronic and online payment solutions.
When you look at Denmark’s neighbor, Sweden (one of the highest number of bank transactions per person in Europe), which has been trying to lower the amount of cash used in the country, cases of credit card fraud have doubled in the last decade. Some anti-cash groups had no shame in advertising the fact that in 2013, a Swedish bank robber left empty-handed, after he found out that “the Stockholm bank he held up did not carry any cash.”
The security argument is a hard one to win and it applies to all countries. Cashless lobbyists are working worldwide towards that economic transition, and are using Scandinavia as an example of what could be the future. This future isn’t exactly right around the corner yet, which is partly why many central banks throughout the world still haven’t embraced the anti-cash arguments.
(1) Denmark moves closer to a cashless society, The Independent, Doug Bolton, May 7th 2015
(2) Cross-Border Web of Deceit Leaves Denmark With Huge Tax Hole, Bloomberg, November 11th 2015