Why cashless society is a dangerous idea
Sir, – Conor Pope bemoans how Ireland lags behind Sweden in moving away from cash in favour of electronic payments without considering whether this is truly the path we should be taking (“Money walks: Ireland readies to go cashless, eventually”, November 14th).
Cash has a major advantage over debit cards in that it is completely anonymous and untraceable. Any electronic payment leaves a log on the servers belonging to the companies who manage the transaction, which is a major problem for those of us who care about privacy. Furthermore, these same companies have absolute power to decide where we can and cannot spend what is supposedly our own money. Visa and MasterCard have already removed people’s choices in how to spend their own money in December 2010, when they blocked all donations to WikiLeaks.
If cash is completely abolished, our spending will be at the mercy of a handful of financial companies. If they are willing to completely block payments to any one entity, what is to stop them from blocking all payments to companies or individuals who they have not pre-approved, which you just know would require substantial fees that small businesses can barely afford? Major credit card firms could easily decide to partner with major retailers to offer special reduced transaction fees, thus granting those companies a significant pricing advantage and moving ever closer to monopoly.
For the sake of what freedoms we retain under capitalism, I hope that cash never goes away. – Yours, etc,