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The debate

Cashless: Many Americans will be left behind - 11/02/2020

At stores across the country, paying in cash is more difficult than it used to be. During the first few months of the pandemic, fear that cash could transmit COVID-19 spurred many retailers, if they remained open at all, to refuse cash and adopt new payment technologies. For a while over the summer, the problem was so acute that it led to a shortage of coins — not because the coins didn't exist, but because so few were circulating through the system. Whether a future without cash is a utopian or dystopian one depends on who you are and what you want. For many fintech companies, the...

War on cash: the danger of central bank digital currencies - 10/28/2020

There has been a lot of talk lately about central banks implementing their own digital currencies. Why? As economist Daniel Lacalle notes, most transactions conducted using the world’s primary currencies are already electronic. In practice, the US dollar, the yen, the euro, the Swiss franc and the yuan already function as digital money. So why the rush to create new central bank digital currencies? Simply put, this is another front in the war on cash. And that means it’s about control. As Lacalle put it, this is basically another step in the effort to gradually get rid of physical...

The reasons why the CJEU decided to protect the right to pay in cash - 10/26/2020

An upcoming case before the CJEU could have important implications for the status of banknotes and coins as legal tender in the EU and whether Member States can pass legislation restricting the use of cash. The Case In 2015, two German citizens, Johannes Dietrich and Norbert Häring, tried to pay their monthly radio and television fees in cash. Citing its rule against cash payments, Hessischer Rundfunk, the public broadcaster for the Land of Hess (Germany), refused their request and sent them late fines of 60.50 €. In a case that reached Germany’s Federal Administrative Court, the men...

Shopping in times of coronavirus: a reminder - 10/22/2020

Depending on where you are living, the rules that authorities have put in place during the coronavirus outbreak will be different. What is international, however, is the way that the pandemic has put an end to normality and transformed everything, including how we shop. “People are having to do a lot of things that are out of the ordinary for them,” said Dr Christopher Hand, a lecturer in psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University. “It is a very difficult time, particularly for people that have young families, or vulnerable adults to care for, and the uncertainty around the situation is...

What is the future of cash? - 10/17/2020

Since the start of the pandemic, businesses around the world have drastically changed their operations to protect employees and customers. One significant pivot is discouraging the use of cash in favor of digital and contactless payment methods. On the surface, moving away from cash seems like the safe, obvious thing to do to curb the spread of the virus. Also, the idea of zooming towards an innovative, digital-first, cashless society is indeed compelling. However, going completely cashless may lead to some unintended consequences. COVID-19 Made Cashless Payments Go Viral The world has...

When going cashless means more exclusion and poverty - 10/12/2020

Modern technology, coupled with a strong reliance on the internet, has created the path to a potentially cashless society. However, this futuristic utopia could quickly abandon marginalized communities if we are not delicate with the transition. At first glance, one could assume everyone benefits from going cashless. There would be no crumpled-up dollar bills, no scrounging for quarters when you want something from the vending machine and no stress of counting exact change with a line of people behind you. The concept of a majorly digital world is not unheard of. In the 1950s, U.S....

Cashless economy is threatening the working poor - 10/09/2020

Are we in for a cashless society? Would digital payments, and paying with “plastic” really work for everybody? Will the heightened sensitivity for cleanliness in this pandemic speed up digital payments for everything? When the virus finally does abate, is this one of the dramatic changes awaiting us? Let’s consider whether some of the experts are right, that digital commerce is about to take over, and that a cashless economy will be a new way of living and acting that lies ahead. There’s always uncertainty in forecasts, so as we consider them, let’s be mindful of the wisdom of the baseball...

Diving into cashless hurts - 10/07/2020

“No Cash Accepted” signs are increasingly common in Australian shops, thanks to COVID-19. Even before the the pandemic struck, though, we were well along the cashless path, with demand for coins halving between 2013 and 2019. For the most part Australians have taken cashless payments in their stride. A fully cashless society is often envisaged as inevitable. But the experiences of Sweden and Zimbabwe, two very different countries that have gone much farther down the path to a cashless society, highlight the pitfalls of such thinking. Sweden shows the need to safeguard access to cash....

Turning cashless comes with a huge cost - 10/05/2020

Canada is one of the world’s most cashless societies, with 62 percent of surveyed Canadians saying they are using less cash now compared to their spending before the COVID-19 pandemic. The reasons for going cashless are easy to understand: it is quick, you never have to rummage around for exact change and digitized spending leaves a much smaller environmental footprint. Also, particularly in a pandemic, it reduces the touch points we all share. But the move into cashless business has a big cost. A 2019 study showed that 17 percent of the UK’s population would “struggle to cope in a...

People get hurt when society turns cashless - 09/28/2020

Some people don’t have credit or debit cards, so a growing number of state and local governments are requiring businesses to accept cash. Cash doesn’t have the status it used to. In fact, some state and local governments are forcing businesses like restaurants and retail shops to continue accepting cash — concerned that cashless businesses effectively discriminate against consumers who do not have bank accounts or credit cards. New York City will require most stores and restaurants to accept cash as of Nov. 19, joining cities including San Francisco; Berkeley, Calif.; and Philadelphia,...
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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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