I have long viewed the efforts of banks, retailers and government to make us a cashless society. I’ve heard all their reasons: money-laundering, efficiency and so on, and I remain unconvinced.
It’s even worse over here, and Ross Clark of the Daily Mail takes aim at the process:
The argument in its favour is convenience, but the truth is that it’s all about greed.
Firstly, there is the opportunity to collect fees. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that banks and payment companies such as Visa and Mastercard currently make $1 trillion annually worldwide in fees — typically paid by the retailer — for processing electronic payments.
And it won’t be just the retailers who are being fleeced. Currently, consumers are rarely charged fees to use credit cards and debit cards, but you can bet that would change if there was no option to pay in cash.
An even bigger prize is the opportunity that cashless payments offer to large corporations to collect vast amounts of personal information about individuals.
We are familiar with how tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter harvest information about us via our internet searches and so on.
But few of us are aware that we are also feeding a vast data machine whenever we use our credit and debit cards.
It’s worth reading the whole thing, because Clark’s analysis is very good, especially hw going cashless makes us completely vulnerable to the vagaries of computer systems, their inefficiencies and the hacking thereof.
And while I share his cynicism about Big Business and its Marketing Department, I am even more cynical about Government and its attempt to make all transactions cashless — because as a former marketer myself I can at least understand the desire for more information about consumers (even if I don’t agree with the ruthless harvesting thereof) — but when it comes to government knowing every little detail about how I spend my money, certain part of my anatomy start to twitch uncontrollably.
And yes, we’re mostly talking about my various fingers.
Whenever I’m faced with any attempt to make a massive, wholesale change in society’s behavior, I get that same twitch — and this one strikes me as especially worthy of some digitized action. So I’ll start with the most innocuous one first.
Note to government and business: want me to stop using cash?
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the range, to rid myself of another twitch.