Why benefits of a cashless society may be overrated

phys.org | 3/21/2019 | Staff
Caris (Posted by) Level 3
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After recreational cannabis use became legal in Canada last October, research shows the number of bank notes in circulation fell sharply. Before, marijuana buyers used cash to keep their transactions anonymous. After, there was a massive switch to the convenience of cashless payments.

It's a prime example of what makes a cashless society so attractive to law makers and enforcers wanting to put the squeeze on the "black economy" that can't be tracked or taxed.

Everyone - Cash - Motivations

But not everyone clinging to cash has illicit motivations.

This month Philadelphia became the first major US city requiring all merchants to accept cash. This week the state of New Jersey followed suit. Other US cities and states are considering the same.

Concern - Payment - Systems - Discriminate - Bank

The chief concern is that cashless payment systems discriminate against the "unbanked" – those without a bank account – making life harder for those already on the margins. "It's really a fairness issue," said the councillor who sponsored the ban. "Equal access is what we're trying to get."

So as nations make plans to become cashless societies, and automated teller machines start to go the way of telephone booths, it's timely to consider the pros and cons of cashless payments. We need ensure our enthusiastic march to the future does not trample over people or leave them behind.

Survey - US - Federal - Deposit - Insurance

A national survey by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation shows about 8.4 million US households – or 6.5% of all households – were unbanked in 2017. Philadelphia's new law is primarily to protect such people.

Taking effect on July 1, the law requires most stores to accept cash, and forbids them charging a surcharge for paying with cash. New York, Washington and Chicago are among the cities investigating similar measures.

Britain - Review - Cash - Accessibility - Ombudsman

In Britain a review of cash accessibility headed by former chief financial ombudsman Natalie Ceeney has urged financial regulators to stop the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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