The Looming Reality Of a Cashless Society
In an age of rapid innovation and technological advancements the removal of inconvenience in our day to day has become somewhat of an obsession. If its as simple as removing an unnecessary wire connecting our headphones or as complex as being able to physically print items via 3d printing it begs the question: Is money next in line to receive a considerable revision?
Money like any currency sets out to be a store of value, unit of account and as a medium of exchange having previously removing the need for bartering. Now in theory this criteria can still all be achieved however many people’s issues lie within the ethical viability of such a seismic shift in our lives.
It is a scary thought to consider that the removal of physical money would effectively leave governments with the ability to monitor everybody’s transactions. Now there are some clear benefits that would occur from this. It would allow state’s and governments to monitor and prevent any tax evasions from happening which can only be seen as a good thing despite the painful inevitability of tax. Alongside arguably simplifying and making the process of transactions effortless. However, with the current political climate and lack of trust within those controlling our lives surely now is not the time to be transferring additional authority to such individuals as democracy’s foundations are centred around trust.
Participants were deeply cynical about all politicians and parties telling the truth — 76% of UK adults thought that voters were being misled by false and dishonest claims in this election campaign-fullfact April 2020 study
Despite there being a decreasing number of undemocratic nations this virtualisation of transactions results in the possibility of malicious actions within the ever-revolving political climate. Privacy is an increasing concern for many as we only become more trapped within digital ecosystems. This could leave leaders of a nation with the ability to monitor and limit your purchases providing them the opportunity to infer your political leanings ultimately leaving in control. As with any industry there is also the threat of private corporations. This could very easily lead to companies operating in unsafe and undemocratic methods in the use and exploitation of our data regarding our financial situations. Take the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal as an example. This momentous collection of Facebook users personal data allowed them to enact psychological warfare among 2016 American voters resulting in mass testimonies and legal implications. This can reiterate the importance of user data and why it should remain protected at all costs.
I am no conspiracy theorist, yet the direction of innovation does constitute towards unique and unfamiliar problems for humanity.
Now in reality the above points mentioned are genuinely unprecedented and uncommon scenarios that can often negate the alternative viewpoints in discussions. The transition that has occurred in the past 10 years has truly redeveloped and transformed as the ease involved with digital and monetary exchange has been welcomed my a large majority of people.
Gone are the days where you would left unable to buy anything if you’d left your wallet or purse at home. Systems such as Apple and Google pay have proved to be revolutionary in cutting out the inconvenience involved with carrying,sorting,printing and handling money. As younger generations only grow as an audience for such technologies they act as a catalyst for demand for such services in which their willingness on the whole has led towards the foundations of multi-billion dollar companies and industries to have formed. This profound accessibility can help many individuals that may have previously struggled to sort and count money the ease of a swipe on top of a card machine to pay for their groceries. Currently, this is playing an even bigger role in the germ-related risks involved with physical money. This global pandemic has offered us a glimpse into the future as the common cashier phrase consists of a plea to ask us to pay in cash. This is a completely understandable request as such key workers health should be protected by any means possible.
Additionally many countries find themselves already far within this digital realm of transactions with some nations even closing within a completely cashless system. Sweden has had barely 1% of the value of all payments made using coins or notes alongside it being tipped to become the first truly cashless society by 2023. This just demonstrates how if we are to shift to a cashless society it will be subject to differing speeds as many countries have found themselves early to adoption of such systems compared to others.
“Sorry, we don’t take cash here” — Cashier(s)
On the flip-side, many people (Usually older generations) will understandably struggle to come to terms with and solve how to use a virtualized means of buying and selling goods and services. In many countries regardless of how big their economy is still have a staggering amount of homelessness in which a change in money is the ultimate middle-finger to those heavily reliant on cash in hand. This is not to mention those who live in remote and rural locations that are far from the complexity and development of cities that would also need consideration and scheme’s in place if we were to decide to evolve into a penniless society.
The shift towards a cashless society harms those most vulnerable in society
A Happy Compromise
The current systems in place grant the greatest compromise between the two varying methods of money. It ensures that no such individual is marginalised through a flawed system and is made to suffer for their personal means of working or financial situation; Offering flexibility for people. The form of a system which accommodates society as a whole and not just those with social or economic capital is the greatest innovation we could possibly achieve.