As VISA Wages War on Hard Cash, Remember That The Death of Real Money Will Leave Us All Poorer
The comments above & below is an edited and abridged synopsis of an article by Brendan O’Neill
Imagine a world without cash, where every monetary transaction is digitized. Handymen could never ask for cash, budget in their purses would be forced to remember PINs and contactless shopping. Waitresses would have to rely on management for tips and older people who like to keep coins in jars and their weekly
Such a world might not be far off. If big credit and debit card firms get their way, the era of paper might soon end, and not seeing what we’re spending would give us less control over our financial lives.
Last week VISA declared war on cash. It will “put cash out of business,” said the company’s chief executive, Al Kelly. It is promising retail outlets free use of contactless technology if they promise to refuse cash payments.
VISA will be one of the big winners in a cash-free world, where every purchase we make will have to go through the debit and credit card overlords. But the rest of us could lose out in a big way.
Handing over cash makes us stop and think about what we’re doing. This could be why credit card companies loathe cash; they know we will spend more with plastic.
Kids learn about budgeting through pocket money, and many older people prefer the feel and manageability of cash. Handymen, market traders, small businesses, corner shops—they all deal in paper.
Then there are the authoritarian consequences of the drive to put cash out of business. If every transaction must be virtual, nothing we do will ever be truly private. Cash offers anonymity. A world of plastic-only payment throws our lives open to scrutiny.
Finally, there’s the matter of technology failing. Imagine your bank is hacked or records are leaked, or if the restaurant you’re in has an Internet meltdown.
People should be able to choose whether to use cash or plastic. Credit card companies shouldn’t dictate how we spend.