Fast moves towards cash are spreading the virus of social exclusion

Fears of coronavirus spreading through cash have been diffused by health authority engagement. Despite this, shops in many countries refuse to accept cash payments. This is not only an abuse of people’s rights it is a direct attack on the poorest people living on the unbanked fringes of society.

Around the world, shoppers are increasingly being faced with signs from retailers refusing to accept cash. Many shops have imposed card-payment-only policies out of fear of coronavirus transmission on banknotes, or introduced limited cash-use registers.

Such moves have likely been spurred by the reactionary decision in South Korea to burn money deemed contaminated, or that of China, where certain banknotes were taken out of circulation for a 14-day decontamination period.

While permanent refusal of cash goes against EU law, in other territories such as the UK and the US, it is permitted. However, legalities aside, the reasoning behind these measures is deeply flawed.

The World Health Organization has already discredited reports that banknotes are a particular risk. So too have a multitude of health and disease experts.

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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.

The cashless society from an ethical point of view

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