It has been a futuristic vision since the 1950s some people think it may become reality faster than we think and some people assume, this idea may never be implemented.
So I will be talking about the possibilities of successfully creating such a society, how it will affect countries and their people, what might change in a society without cash and if this monetary system would be more beneficial or harmful to society.
Throughout history there have been many payment systems and forms of money such as commodity/natural money; exchanging one good for another, reaching the time when coins were made due to increased trading. Leading to paper money and eventually to cashless forms of payment for example credit, debit cards, digital wallets and also checks.
We are not living in a complete cashless society yet but new inventions that are being tried out already favour that type of society and will make it possible.
I have two examples for those inventions:
#1 not so new but still : The digital wallet. It is an electronic device or online service that allows an individual to make electronic transactions. This can include purchasing items online with a computer or using a smartphone to purchase something at a store. An individual\’s bank account can also be linked to the digital wallet. They might also have their driver’s license, health card, and other ID documents stored on the phone. The credentials can be passed to a merchant\’s terminal wirelessly via near field communication (NFC).
Increasingly, digital wallets are being made not just for basic financial transactions but to also authenticate the holder\’s credentials. For example, a digital wallet could verify the age of the buyer to the store while purchasing alcohol.
Digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet or Paypal are being used more and more especially in Asian countries. One in five consumers in Asia are now using a digital wallet. A recent survey by MasterCard\’s mobile shopping survey shows on 8500 adults aged 18–64 across 14 markets showed, 45% users in China, 36.7% users in India and 23.3% users in Singapore are the biggest adopters of digital wallet.
57% — or more than 60 million Americans — use a digital wallet more than any other means of transferring money, like an ATM, cash of bank check since these services are allowing transfers from one bank account to another, some without fees and as fast as in 24 hours.
Consumers are not required to fill out order forms on each site when they purchase an item because the information has already been stored and is automatically updated and entered into the order fields. Digital wallets are available to consumers free of charge, secure and fairly easy to obtain.
#2 Touch & Travel: A new form of paying when traveling with Deutsche Bahn introduced in December 2013. Also based on nfc and contactless. In some regions in Germany it is now possible to take the train without a paper ticket. To use this system one has to register on a website and download a DB compatible app.
Due to the automatic price calculation no selection of a specific tariff by the customers is necessary.
In ticket inspection, customers open the app and only have to present a barcode stored there. All trips are billed by direct debit. To do this, train drivers only need to hold their NFC-enabled smartphone at the start and destination stations in front of the corresponding Touch & Travel terminals and then receive the corresponding fare. I have never seen any touch & travel terminals but I would not log out at the destination station so that the system can charge me. So I’m not sure how this works.
While digital wallets and touch&travel are great examples for a working cashless society people are naturally worried about their security. Some people believe that tracking purchases and monitoring digital communications will be more prevalent in a cashless society. This makes sense, especially if biometrics is used to identify consumers. It is believed the society would function in the same way as East Germany, which had as many as 300,000 informants reporting „politically incorrect“behavior (possibly the retailers would report purchases). According to focus groups, the primary reason that the theory is struggling for acceptance is the fear of identity theft and a „Big Brother“ like surveillance database that accompanies most electronic communication and commerce. (5min)
People should feel safe having their Biometrics and the ability to shut down their digital wallet any time but the problem is the failure rate of biometric ID systems. These systems may be convenient, but they are far from perfect. In fact, if you research “failure rate of biometric data systems” via a search engine or academic database, you will find mostly negative comments on biometrics.
For example, according to a test by the National Physical Laboratory’s Centre for Mathematics and Scientific Computing in the UK, the failure to enroll rate of the fingerprint biometric system is 1%. This means some people might not even be able to enroll in a biometric system using their fingerprints. Glitches such as this cast a doubt on whether biometrics are as reliable as their sales and marketing pitches make them out to be.
To many, 1% seems like a small number and not worth worrying about. However, imagine that there are 100 million people wanting to use a biometric system to safeguard their digital wallets. If the failure to enroll rate is 1%, 1 million people would not be able to even use the system – that is very significant. (6:20)
Not only failure rates would worry the people but the biggest fear we all have when using technology is hackers.
Google swears that the Google Wallet system is more secure than cash and credit cards, but it did recently have to do a temporary shutdown of a feature that allows users to load prepaid card information onto smartphones for spending. The reason for the shutdown was due to a security vulnerability that was exposed by a Zvelo Labs researcher at a technology convention.
To demonstrate, the researcher showed how easy it is to use software to crack someone’s PIN and access their virtual wallet once you have their phone in your possession. This means that if you want the convenience of Google Wallet, you’d better not lose your phone. While this system makes it possible to eliminate the need to carry cash or plastic, digital payments can be made with a tap or wave of a smartphone, transactions become faster and it would make it easier to loan or borrow money, a cashless society would be harmful to some, with an ME study finding no cash means 61% of people are less generous.
For cash-fed economies, this meant people would tip waiters 45% less often, donate to charities on the street 44% less and pay street performers 42% less of the time. Homeless or less fortunate people could also expect to be given money 42% less often.
“Consumers are benefiting … but there are also losers … including those who in the past have relied on gratuities and cash donations,” ME spokesman Nic Emery said. “The move to digital money may also exclude some people as going cashless requires an active bank account, which many of our poorest are unlikely to have. ——————————(8:20) slowed down: 10 Minutes ————————————
The complete elimination of cash would also bring about a huge reduction in crime, wouldn’t it? All kinds of black market activities including selling drugs and weapons and sex work and other illegal goods and services are often purchased with paper money because it changes hands without leaving a trace. If there were no longer any cash, there would be no reason for such crimes to occur: what is the point of a robbery if there is no benefit and severe consequences for the action,right?