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Is cashless economy going too far in China?





BEIJING -- On her first trip to China, 30-year-old Courtney Newnham from Portland, Ore., eagerly lined up at a street pushcart to buy a skewer of candied hawthorn berries, a traditional snack.

Then she realized nobody was giving the pushcart guy money. "Everyone was just scanning and walking away, and I was like, 'Wait, what?' " she said. She left empty-handed.

China was never an easy place for tourists, but lately just about everything seems to have gone square-shaped -- as in the payment-app QR code needed to unlock much of the Middle Kingdom.

It's how people hail taxis, consult doctors, pay for meals and book flights. Even beggars are asking for money via QR code. Not needing a wallet has simplified life for China's 1.4 billion people, but it can leave the 140 million tourists arriving in the mainland each year helpless.

They can't rely on familiar apps. Google is blocked in China. Uber has ceded the field to local ride-hailing app Didi. Yelp doesn't operate in China.

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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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