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In Germany, the cashless economy raises concerns about trust and privacy





For many Germans, the convenience of electronic payment is beside the point. Rather, the use of cash has, to a surprising extent, become a proxy for profound concerns about trust, privacy, and the role of the state. Whereas in most countries the choice of how to organize purchases is basically a question of utility, in Germany it’s freighted with much deeper connotations. “Cash, to me, is an important public good by which you measure the transparency and legal order of a society, and also the respect for the individual and the private sphere,” says Max Otte, an economist in Cologne who leads Save Our Cash, a national campaign that opposes measures to restrict the use of physical currency. “ ‘Why do Germans like cash?’ is the wrong question,” he adds. Instead, Otte asks, “Why have others shifted to a cashless society so quickly?”

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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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