It was recently announced that cash will no longer be accepted on the London Bus system and the use of plastic cards, which can be preloaded with credit, will be insisted upon. This follows on from a similar announcement in Kenya where public transport will also go cashless and switch to an electronic system of payment.
The move towards cashless transactions is very much an increasing trend and governments throughout the world are pushing the idea of a “cashless society” i.e. a world where all payments are made electronically. Obviously, proper records will have to be kept and these will have to be readily available to all those concerned. Important and powerful, global organizations including the UN are involved but developments along these lines could have massive implications for individual freedom and privacy.
Supporters point to an obvious reduction in overheads by removing the need to produce/secure physical cash along with possible reduction in tax evasion, armed robbery and black market fraud. Critics are wary of governments operating in a George Orwell inspired world and being able to monitor every item of economic activity. The NSA snooping story adds weight to these claims
The debate continues but some governments e.g. UK and Kenya are already working hard to reduce the reliance on cash. The end objective, which may be years down the line, can only be an eventual end to all cash transactions and a world economy based digital commerce.
It has been portrayed as a natural progression and an example was a CNN feature on 2/7/14 called “The Evolution of a Cashless Society,” which described the progress made by various countries. The eventual introduction of a cashless society was presented as inevitable and apparently the United States is at a “tipping point” while Canada, Belgium, France, Sweden, and others are “almost cashless.” Other countries are either at the “inception” or “transitioning.”
In reality, the “trends” are not happening naturally and big business is playing a major role. Governments are driving the cashless society developments with taxpayers money and well funded foundations are joining in to build support. For example, in September 2012 the Ford Foundation, launched the “Better Than Cash Alliance” which describes itself as a partnership “to empower people by shifting from cash to electronic payments.” The partners include big business representatives like Visa and Citibank as well as the UN
Maybe the move towards a cashless society is a natural progression or part of evolution but the arguments against are not being heard. If the trend continues, it seems that all transactions will eventually take place electronically and the need for cash will be eliminated but will the technology always work? Will we need a card for the bus, a card for the train and one for each store or will a universal payment system be developed? What if the card is mislaid?
Various systems are in development and a system using a mobile phone to make payments has been used successfully. Again a mobile phone can be mislaid and what happens then?Mobile phones are routinely used as tracking devices and an increase in their use can only make this more widespread
Some organisations have advocated the use of a human micro-chip with the eventual goal of each person having a device inserted under the skin and able to use it to provide identification and to make electronic payments.
Maybe this is the path we’ll follow but there is massive potential for making mischief. Do we really want to give the government the ability to track every physical and economic move we make? In a cashless society, a political opponent could be removed from the economy and he/she wouldn’t be able to buy food. A power cut would cause absolute chaos.
It might be the fulfilment of prophesy. Revelations 13:17 reads
“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name,”