Italia's try to turn cashless

Together with Germans and Greeks, Italians have long been the most stubborn and steadfast of Europeans in their love of cash. For years, they have resisted cards and digital payments and viewed with deep suspicion most campaigns to convert them. To a significant extent, they also saved in physical notes, especially older adults, keeping their “rainy day” funds outside the Italian banking system, which has given them plenty of reasons to question and to mistrust. Just a year ago, there was no reason to think this defiance would waver, at least not anytime soon.

But then the pandemic hit, followed by the one of the longest and harshest lockdown policies on the planet. By the time the “second wave hit” and another round of mass closures and self-isolation orders came to pass, countless Italians were stuck at home, forcing daily transactions online. And that’s when the government hit, exploiting this lack of payment alternatives and the practical inability to use cash.

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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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