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Why turning cashless is not the right answer to South Africa's problems





What would happen tomorrow if we could turn SA into a cashless society with a wave of a magic wand? Far from turning the country into a crime-free paradise of low transaction costs and widespread financial inclusion, it’s more likely that chaos would reign in many communities as millions of South Africans found themselves financially excluded and unable to transact.

As we debate the noble aspiration of achieving financial inclusion in our country, going cashless is often presented as the mechanism through which financial inclusion will be achieved. Yet digital payments are not a panacea for financial inclusion for the simple reason that reliance on cash, or any digital payment mechanism for that matter, is not the root cause of why people are financially excluded in SA.

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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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