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  • Somewhere in the near future, physical money will become like these, relics of a different age.

  • And will only be found in places like this.

  • In other words, hard cash will disappear.

  • It will become electronic transferred by things like these.

  • So what's the rush to get rid of cash?

  • And what's the cost?

  • Let's face it money is cumbersome for consumers and banks.

  • You need to mint the cash and to print the bills, which would transport them in armored trucks, store it in secure vaults and you need to sort it at the till as well.

  • Operating in cash costs countries about 0.5% of their GDP every year.

  • But cost isn't the only incentive to move towards a cashless future.

  • Demand is rising.

  • Primarily demand from the young generations who are looking for fast, easy-to-use means of payments.

  • Digital payments aren't just easy.

  • They're neat.

  • It becomes easier for governments to monitor tax evasion and fraud.

  • So we will have less of that going on, probably.

  • Having every single payment automatically recorded is efficient.

  • But there's a downside.

  • Let's assume, for example, that a country that used to be democratic where people were not paying too much attention about safeguarding their privacy becomes undemocratic and someone wants to control citizen more closely.

  • They will try to infer from what you buy, your political leanings potentially.

  • And generally speaking just monitor what you're doing in ways that they shouldn't be doing.

  • The ballot boxes are kept locked and sealed.

  • Living in a democratic country doesn't mean you shouldn't be concerned.

  • There are also worries that private companies perhaps might use this data in ways that are not safe or that you might not like.

  • And for a number of sectors knowing what you do with your money is very important.

  • Electronic-money trails can allow governments and private companies to access and harvest personal data.

  • But there's another threat that is worrying banks: cyberattacks.

  • "It was a high-tech bank robbery."

  • "Capital One suffering a massive hack attack involving..."

  • "A hundred million Capital One customer's accounts..."

  • "Had their personal information stolen."

  • In March 2019, Capital One bank was hacked.

  • A solo hacker managed to steal away 106 million people's personal details, um... in, in a matter of days.

  • And that attack was noticed just a few months after.

  • You can see that a lot of companies are not very well protected yet, against such threats.

  • Pretty much every day we hear of data breaches and cyberattacks that are successful.

  • It's much harder to prevent an attack than to be on the hacker side because you only need to succeed once as a hacker.

  • Once upon a time, you would have two guys coming in, they would tell everyone to be on the floor, they would put the money in the bag and then run away with the money.

  • And you would get insurance against that.

  • You knew what the risk was.

  • Nowadays with cyberattacks, they can happen any time, they can take any form.

  • So it's very hard to insure against.

  • Still, many countries are fast moving towards a cashless society.

  • In Sweden, the number of retail cash transactions per person has fallen by 80% in the past ten years.

  • The trend is even evident in far more cash-loyal societies.

  • China's digital payments rose from 4% of all payments in 2012 to 34% in 2017.

  • The trend is inevitable but a gradual transition is key.

  • It's important that we have a sort of control as to how fast this happens.

  • Because if that's not the case, some people might be left behind.

  • Some people may find it harder to grasp how much money they have without the physical representation of it.

  • Not everyone knows how to use internet banking technology.

  • And people living in remote areas, where internet cover is patchy, may find they have to drive for miles for their basic needs.

  • And there is another sector of society that relies heavily on cash.

  • People living on the street don't carry card terminals with them.

  • So it would be very hard for them, well, first of all to collect money and to pay for things.

  • They will be among the people who suffer the most from it.

  • Going cashless is just the latest evolution of money in the modern economy.

  • But it raises a fundamental question: what is the value of money if it doesn't physically exist?

  • Central banks enact monetary policy by exerting control over the amount of money that is created and that is in circulation.

  • And they can do it because they are the only entities that print and create money.

  • The purpose of it is to control the amount of money that is used by the entire economy.

  • In a cashless society, obviously this becomes much harder because money presumably can be created by other entities.

  • And so central banks are actually starting to realize this.

  • Especially after Facebook made the announcement that they were looking to launch a digital currency.

  • It shows you the extent to which central banks are already thinking about the future of money.

  • The move towards cashless societies is well under way.

  • But governments need to ensure that, as cash is phased out, the vulnerable in society aren't left behind.

Somewhere in the near future, physical money will become like these, relics of a different age.

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B1 US cashless cash hacker society capital central

What does a cashless future mean? | The Economist

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    Nina posted on 2019/08/26
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