All cashless: the Chinese central bank has its doubts

China's push towards creating a cashless society is meeting some resistance from the country's central bank. Late last year, the People's Bank of China(PBOC), the country's central bank, fined 16 public and private organizations for refusing to accept cash payments, the bank revealed in a statement last week.

The central bank's action was aimed at maintaining the circulation of China's paper yuan currency and to "protect the rights of the public to use cash," the PBOC said. The bank said it fined organizations between 500 yuan ($77) and 500,000 yuan ($77,236) for taking "discriminatory" or "inconvenient" measures to deny customers the right to use cash. The violators included Chinese insurance giant Ping An, several property management companies, a public park in Beijing, and 13 other public and private institutions across the country. (The PBOC did not explain the discrepancy in fine size.)

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The cashless society from an ethical point of view

The debate about the move towards a cashless society has been at the center of the scene for several years, now. Various angles have been taken by economists, politicians, banking institutions and sociologists. Beyond the technicalities of the debate, lies the question of freedom, of inter-citizen solidarity and of governmental responsibility. The debate cannot remain in the hands of financial specialists, it is first and foremost an ethical, political and societal issue.

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