UK warning: cashless is a threat

The UK Public Accounts Committee has taken aim at attempts to create a cashless society, saying regulators have not only failed to ensure adequate access to cash for consumers and businesses but are also not doing enough to protect vulnerable groups and communities, particularly in rural areas, who most need to use cash.

In a report issued last week, the committee said oversight of the production and distribution of notes and coins is “unclear” and “fragmented” across HM Treasury, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Payment Systems Regulator and the Bank of England. And those public bodies, in turn, did not understand “the clear dangers of hardship” from financial exclusion, caused by the UK’s “precipitous” move towards a cashless society.

The committee noted that the reduction of automated teller machines and bank branches as well as businesses that accept cash can have a negative impact on the lives of many people, including those in rural areas, as well as vulnerable and digitally excluded people.

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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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