The growing shift towards digital payments is strongly debated among governments, central banks and financial experts. Indeed, the proliferation of new electronic and mobile instruments has opened the door to a possible revolution of the payments landscape. Yet, various factors must be taken into account as a worldwide shift to cashless could prove more complex than believed.
To justify a withdrawal of paperSee Banknote paper. More moneyFrom the Latin word moneta, nickname that was given by Romans to the goddess Juno because there was a minting workshop next to her temple. Money is any item that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular region, country or socio-economic context. Its onset dates back to the origins of humanity and its physical representation has taken on very varied forms until the appearance of metal coins. The banknote, a typical representati... More, governments argue that a fully digitalised system would eradicate tax evasion and money launderingThe operation of attempting to disguise a set of fraudulently or criminally obtained funds as legal, in operations undeclared to tax authorities, and therefore not subjected to taxation. Money laundering activities are strongly pursued by authorities and in most countries, there are strict rules for credit institutions to cooperate in the fight against money laundering operations, to declare and report any transactions that could be considered suspicious. More, reduce transaction costs and enable financial authorities to stimulate economic growth. A cashless system would enable governments to track and record every transaction, leaving no loopholes for fraudsters to exploit. Moreover, central banks would be able to impose any desired monetary policy – including negative rates – as consumers would have no way to retrieve their cashMoney in physical form such as banknotes and coins. More from the banking system.
A demise of paper money would enable governments to exercise a full control over the banking system, including tracking and recording all transactions. If this might be useful in the fight against criminality, it will also impinge on consumer rights to privacy. Furthermore, no one would be immune in case of a system failure, and a stolen or broken smartphone would immediately leave the victim without a paymentA transfer of funds which discharges an obligation on the part of a payer vis-à-vis a payee. More tool. Last but not least, the millions of unbanked would be left behind without any resource. According to specialists, a shift to cashless might even create a second-class citizenry and thus deepen the gap between rich and poor.
The example of India’s demonetisationSee Demonetised banknote. More shows how laborious the shift to cashless can be. Last year’s demonetisation of the Rs 500 and 1000, which accounted for 86% of the currencyThe money used in a particular country at a particular time, like dollar, yen, euro, etc., consisting of banknotes and coins, that does not require endorsement as a medium of exchange. More in circulation in the country, unsurprisingly resulted in chaos. Companies were unable to pay salaries and millions of unbanked citizen could not buy food and medicine. What’s more, the economy slowed to a two-year low as the population spent days lining up at banks to open accounts and deposit their old notes.
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