What is a Cashless Society?
Well, there is Beijing, China, where people do not use cash unless they have no phone at all or are too old to use one. They use mobile wallets that are powered by fiat currency but are digital. While there may be loopholes in their tech they have certainly gone cashless.
Another example of a cashless society could be the one that many governments are looking into, where no ATM’s and lesser cash acceptance will lead to a slow and eventual elimination of using cash and demanding it. We are already half way through it with credit cards and online banking in countries like England and Australia.
Then India, has its own version of cashless options, PayTM, Bhim, UPI and Xoom for example. Middle Eastern startup Careem, an Uber competitor aiming to drive out Uber in several countries encourages users to use their wallets to store money directly from their banks and then use it as they go. Pakistan can be seen as a good example of a country with a great urban-rural divide, leading to a major unbankable person problem. Initiatives like JazzCash and Upay are gaining momentum, they are really telecom service providers venturing into money.
Is there a need for it?
Being cashless is convenient and everybody wants it. Governments can control better. people can shop with ease, travel light, be safe and corporates can know better. Knowing better means that the big organizations can monitor each transaction in the country, specifically of their own business and their rivals, the market can be studied better and thus it can be tapped more extensively. More data for the data-hungry and more ads for the ad-annoyed.
Why is that bad for human civilization?
More surveillance, no more privacy is fun, said no one ever.
Capitalism will use the information and the new data collected to further seep into the people’s behaviors and sell them products more and more effectively, pursuing them nonstop and ensuring that they run out of assets to use eventually, leading them into rabbit holes of spending and incurring more and more unpayable debt which in itself is a tool for containing wealth in the current hierarchical economic sector, leaving the people under heavy debt indebted and the people giving credit highly rich and successful and only growing more. More unfair division of resources, well, we will have very little choice considering the perfectly tailored ad-choices that will leech on us.
This could be a tool to legitimize discrimination and pushing government control on people based on sociopolitical agendas and unfair policies. People can be easily cut out of society or the world through impoverishment that the centralized cashlessness can bring, especially under tyrannical rule. Having your money can mean nothing in such a world if the banks and the state is to control the money flow.
Denying access to fiat based systems will become easy and every day. The government will not have to answer to people, and without resources people can not file lawsuits, or go to the court or question them for being accountable for their actions, considering all their life savings are in the hands of the oppressors.
Political vendetta and tyranny rule will have the ability to simply boycott people from using their own money without shame or effort, this could be the worse form of censorship and suppression of liberties.
Identity theft will be cumbersome and the means to stop it will be as heavily researched as the means to apply it, leading to a new form of crime and victim-ship altogether.
Can it be better?
Bitcoin and decentralization love each other. Bitcoin’s creators went on to solve the problem of such a cashless society and they came up with a foolproof device that could eliminate all the evils around giving banks and the state too much power, the system digitized it all and made sure that things went back smoothly just as they would in a cash-heavy society, only with a greater traceability, less illegality, and much more speed and without discrimination or denying access.
Is there a way out with Bitcoin?
What are the odds of something like this happening you ask? Looking at the pace of evolution, patterns of big data consumption, the need of banks, government institutions and healthcare officers to look into your identity and all the data breaches by companies like Facebook and Google, really show that the need for a strictly cashless and highly surveillance-friendly society is a priority for any government or society looking for a table at the future a-list capitalist toppers of the world. Perhaps, bitcoin, can make it painless and decentral if not so brutal and controlling.
Bitcoin can give the world the peace it needs. People can leave home without thick wallets ruining their looks or being lost in jungles penniless can be saved from, the banks can have a way to save money from building ATM’s, the state eye can be given a break and the advertisers can be kept at bay, all through the incorporation of bitcoin into the system and fiat out of it.