Don’t panic, I’m not skint again.
There is a lot of talk lately about an increasingly cashless society. Some pubs have already taken the decision to accept no cash and I would certainly never visit one. My way of avoiding overspending in pubs was to take a limited amount of cash with me. When it ran out, I’d go home.
I couldn’t help but imagine what a tipsy me would do if presented with unlimited drink because I was paying for it all with a credit card. The expensive single malt whiskies would no longer be ‘out of budget’ and there would be nothing but closing time to stop me.
Let’s be honest here. How many have gone to the pub intending to have two beers and then find that those two beers have switched off the common sense pathways in the brain? The only sensible way to proceed, if you are prone to a ‘the hell with it’ attitude, is to take limited cash. When it’s gone, it’s time to go home. While you can still walk.
Even so, I wouldn’t call for those pubs to be forced to accept cash. I rarely visit anyway since the smoking ban, so it’s unlikely to have a big impact on me – and unlike the antismokers, I believe a private business should be at liberty to decide who it wants to serve and how. If they don’t want to take cash, fine. Losing my limited business won’t affect them at all, and anyway, they chucked out me, along with all the other smokers, over a decade ago.
Of more concern is the growing number of shops who are going cashless. Oh I can see the appeal from the shop’s point of view – no point robbing a shop with no cash, and no need to endure the glares of others in the bank queue while you hand over many bags of coins. So yes, there is an appeal in going cashless – for the shop.
Would I use them? Well, if the likes of Aldi went cashless I might not notice for a while. That’s usually a weekly shop, often with some added weirdness from Aldi’s Aisle of Wonder, and I pay by card. I wouldn’t notice a transition to cashless until the queue is held up by someone at the front with a bottle of milk and a pack of biscuits, equipped only with a ten pound note. The resulting fracas would certainly be noticeable.
An awful lot of people don’t have credit or debit cards. Refuse to allow them to use cash and they will starve.
I don’t use a card if I’m in Local Shop for a pint of milk and a pie. I don’t want my card statement cluttered up with a lot of tiny transactions I won’t remember making. How will I spot a fraudulent transaction in that lot?
It does happen. It happened to me once. I didn’t lose anything because the card company spotted the unusual activity and called me. The transactions were cancelled, they blocked my card and sent me a new one.
The thing is, my card was blocked at once but it was a few days before the new one arrived. In a cashless world I would, for those few days, have been unable to pay for anything. If there had been an urgent bill it would have been paid late and late payment of bills damages your credit rating. A bad credit rating and you cannot get a credit card.
Basically, the cashless society would delete people from the economy. Not just the feckless, the spendthrift, the bad credit risk. Anyone could lose their card or have their details stolen and have that coincide with a large bill coming due. It doesn’t matter how much you have in the bank if you lose your only means of accessing it.
Sure, implanted payment chips will mean you can’t lose it or leave it at home. Contactless cards are only one step away from implanted chips. Doesn’t stop someone stealing your chip by cutting your hand off though.
No cash, and every transaction can be logged and recorded. Everything you buy is on record. Every penny of income is taxed. That birthday present money Auntie transferred to your account is income, matey. You pay tax, and Auntie pays tax on it too.
Tax could of course be massively simplified. Forget income tax, VAT, all the rest. Every transaction can be taxed in transit. Every one. Nobody will mind, because nobody will notice. There’ll be no need to fill out a tax form at the end of the year. The taxman already took his cut.
Lifestyle control, the Puritan dream, will be so much simpler too. Buying too much booze, too many burgers, overdoing it on the butter and jam? Someone will be round to see you and you cannot deny it, it’s all on record. Alternatively, your card’s access to disapproved-of things will simply be limited. Try to buy an extra beer and the shop staff can proclaim your rampant alcoholism to the whole store. Won’t that be fun?
A cashless society is a totally controlled society. You cannot take a bus or a train without the government knowing where you are going. You cannot buy a chocolate bar without risking a lecture from Public Health. You cannot refuse any medical procedure because if you haven’t paid for it, you haven’t attended. You can be tracked and controlled in every aspect of your life.
Try to rebel. All the authorities have to do is block your chip code on their servers. You cannot buy nor sell, you can’t even access the money in your account. Step out of line and you’re on the streets and begging isn’t going to work when nobody has any cash. Passers-by cannot even buy an extra coffee to give you. Their caffeine allowance won’t let them.
“Don’t be silly. People will never agree to going cashless and having chips implanted.”
Pfft. They are fighting to be first. This is not going to be imposed, at least not until it reaches a density where you really cannot function without it. Even then it won’t need force – you either join the collective or starve on the streets. Nobody wants your folding money any more.
Once you’re in, you stay in line or your access to money simply gets turned off.
We’ve seen the demonisation of cash for a while now. Remember how bacteria and viruses were found on the paper notes, and how every note in circulation had detectable levels of cocaine on it? Oh they weren’t saying ‘get rid of it’ back then. They were conditioning you to say it.
The next step will also involve drugs. Criminal gangs can’t use cards to buy drugs, and they don’t accept American Express when selling them. It’s all cash-only. Get rid of cash and most criminal operations will be impossible.
It’s not true, of course. The visible gangs, the low level drug thug with his machete and his street mob will be out of business but the top guys will experience no more than an inconvenience. You don’t get to meet these guys, they do not fight rivals in MacDonald’s and they don’t come out of the shadows with a pocket full of baggies. The street gangs will be of no more use to them, it’ll be suited salesmen and hackers running drugs without cash.
It’s not hard. When cashless becomes a thing, fake accounts and forged chips will be on the streets in a week. These are the people who have long forged cash, then cheques, then credit cards, and emptied back accounts remotely. They won’t be fazed by the next stage.
Your dealer won’t be on a street corner with a long leather coat and bling, he’ll be in an office with a computer on his desk.
So, you have to attend a dentist appointment but you’d rather get a little ‘pick-me-up’ instead. Your dealer simply logs into his fake-dentist account and scans your chip for the bill. He hands you the goods and off you go. Your record shows you visited a dentist that day, as you were required to, and paid. That’s all.
Of course, if your record eventually shows you’ve had every tooth extracted three times, someone might notice – but I seriously doubt it. The system will be run by office juniors, not dentists. The system will not flag you up if you are showing total compliance and the computer doesn’t know how many teeth you have.
The same will work for booze runners and cigarette sellers. You visited the doctor, dentist, optician. You were scanned at the jobcentre. You bought tofu. All the computer knows is what it is told, and it cares nothing for who is doing the telling.
So when you hear that going cashless will stop crime, don’t believe it. Computer based thievery and many other crimes happen now. They already know how to do it.
Going cashless will not control criminals and it isn’t intended to.
It’s intended to control you.