Cashless Payments and the end of Privacy

The tech world includes many players, but is dominated by just a few. “GAFAM” is the acronym used in Europe to refer to tech behemoths Google (under parent company Alphabet), Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. In the U.S., they are more commonly known as “The Big Five” or “FAAMG”. Globally, they are “big tech” and they are powerful.

And big tech’s dominance has only grown in recent times. As a global health crisis was crippling many industries, their collective market capitalization increased by over 40% in 2020 . Lockdowns and unfounded fears of contracting the coronavirus through the handling of cash led to a proliferation of cashless payments and online transactions. Big tech could not be happier.

While the world’s attention has been focused on battling a pandemic, big tech companies have been busy investing in new territory: the payment and fintech markets. Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook have all used different strategies to enter the realm of finance, but consumers and regulators are wary of the increased power each digital payment gives them in the form of personal data.

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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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