Sweden is on its way to becoming the world’s first cashless economy thanks to the government’s push for digital payments and mobile apps. While the move is often presented as a “natural progress” supported by consumers, studies indicate that cashMoney in physical form such as banknotes and coins. More remains extremely popular, at least when the option to pay with it still exists. Experts denounce a misleading campaign led by banks, the government and digital paymentA transfer of funds which discharges an obligation on the part of a payer vis-à-vis a payee. More providers who fail to communicate the potential disadvantages of a purely cashless society.
Supporters of this movement focus only on the convenience of digital and mobile instruments – advantages that are strategically put forth by providers of cashless services – overlooking the dangers linked to data theft and surveillance, to name a couple. Indeed, privacy has no place in a cashless system, in which every transaction can be recorded and analysed. The government and financial authorities have full control over citizens’ 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, enabling them to impose negative interest rates but also to block access to one’s savings. As a result, a cashless society opens the door to a potential economic censorship where authorities can decide where and when one can spend money.
Furthermore, many are waging a war on cashThe expression refers to various policies by governments and campaigns run by other stakeholders, including providers of alternative payment instruments, aimed at reducing or at abolishing the use of cash altogether. This includes for instance the withdrawal of high‐denomination banknotes or restrictions on cash transactions as well as spreading misinformation on the usage and properties of cash. More, arguing that paperSee Banknote paper. More money is obsolete and induces high handling costs. Yet, it has been proven that digital methods such as cards are more expensive to implement and require sophisticated data protection software. Institutions are also striving to reduce cash’s accessibility by closing local bank branches and imposing cash withdrawal limits or by demonetizing high value banknotes, such as in the case of India last year.
Before moving too far ahead, one should remember that there are also many drawbacks that only hard cash can remedy. Maintaining a diverse payments ecosystem appears crucial to guarantee consumer freedom and ensure that no one is left behind, such as the very young, the elderly, the underbanked and the unbanked.
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