Why Cashless is not the solution to all problems

As governments around the world redesign the financial sector with new infrastructure and digital money, it is time to reconsider what matters. Moves by central banks to issue new digital currencies need to be scrutinized for how they affect people’s rights, such as privacy, choice, and access to the economy.

The People’s Bank of China has led the world in developing a national central bank digital currency, the digital Yuan or e-CNY. Research began in 2014. Now China’s official digital currency has logged over $5.3 billion in transactions. Recently, the PBOC published a report in English highlighting the digital Yuan’s development and the central bank’s guiding policy principles of inclusiveness, privacy, safety, efficiency, regulatory compliance, and interoperability. Taken individually, these principles are sound. At the same time, they each have system-level implications for the design of CBDC. Where they conflict, as values and requirements often do, trade-offs are made around “what matters” for the goals and objectives of the CBDC system.

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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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The debate

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