Who Exactly is Trying to Kill off Cash?

Your Children “Will Not Know What Cash Is.”

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

In the Irish city of Cork, business leaders recently launched a three-month pilot project to encourage consumers to abandon the archaic use of cash by offering the chance to enter into a prize draw if they use electronic means of payment. It is a cheap, almost insulting inducement, but nonetheless probably an effective one. The ultimate aim of the scheme is to transform Cork into the first Irish city to go completely cashless.

The Race to Kill Off Cash

A few years ago such an aspiration — to do away with physical cash, a form of payment that has served mankind, for better or worse, richer or poorer, for millennia — might have seemed a little odd. Not anymore. Today cities all over the globe and even entire nations appear to be in a mad rush to kill off cash.

One obvious place that springs to mind is Scandinavia, where Denmark and Sweden are engaged in a neck and neck race to become Europe’s first cashless nation. But the trend extends far beyond Scandinavia. In London, where physical money has been practically abolished from the public transport system, the borough of Brent has proudly declared itself the first district council to go completely cashless — with a little bit of help from MasterCard.

In May this year the city of Bergamo launched an ambitious pilot scheme to become Italy’s first cashless city. The initiative, which awards people who use electronic payments with discounts on retail products, is sponsored by (once again) MasterCard, together with CartaSi, Visa, UbiBanca, Banca Popolare di Bergamo and Banco Popolare.

Meanwhile, in the UK region of South Gloucestershire, the local Conservative Party is spitting venom about the lack of “a genuinely comprehensive, multi-model, London-style [i.e. completely cashless] ‘Oyster’ payment system” for new planned Metrobus routes.

“If the Metrobus is really going to present the traveling public with something different, then the Authority must insist that electronic alternatives to the issuing of paper tickets by drivers is made a contractual condition of any procurement or tender,” thunders Cllr Lucas. “A ‘Brunel’ card would avoid all of the easily foreseeable problems such as unnecessary delays, engineered congestion, confusion, and fragmented service coverage which arise from sticking with traditional forms of payment.”

These are all small, anecdotal examples of a very large, potentially world-changing trend. As I reported in “First They Came for the Pennies in the War on Cash,” the world’s biggest cashless laboratory is sub-Saharan Africa, where Western NGOs and GOs (Government Organizations) are working hand-in-hand with banks, telecom companies, and local authorities to replace cash with mobile money alternatives.

The Usual Suspects

While it is true that recent technological advances and changes in generational priorities mean that cash’s days are probably numbered anyway, there is a whole world of difference between a natural death and euthanasia. It is increasingly clear that a loose, albeit extremely powerful alliance of governments, central banks, big banks, credit card companies, and large corporations wants to pull the plug on cash, for their own distinct motives.

Central banks want to make NIRP an eternal reality and the only way of doing that is to stop depositors from cashing out. For credit card companies, cash is the ultimate rival. As such, it’s no surprise that the likes of Visa and MasterCard are among those pushing the hardest for a cashless economy. As for banks, the obvious attraction is the virtual elimination of the threat of bank runs. As Ellen Brown warns, the ultimate premise of Dodd-Frank was that there would be “no more taxpayer bailouts”:

Instead, insolvent systemically-risky banks were supposed to “bail in” (confiscate) the money of their creditors, including their depositors (the largest class of creditor of any bank). That could explain the push to go cashless. By quietly eliminating the possibility of cash withdrawals, the central bank can make sure the deposits are there to be grabbed when disaster strikes.

In most of the cashless schemes government is playing a key or even leading role. Besides being able to tax people and businesses with much greater efficiency, its two primary motives are power and control. What better way of controlling the people than by controlling their access to the money they need to survive? It would amount to what Martin Armstrong calls “totalitarian control over the economy.”

Naturally, none of these projects are being sold to the general public in such a dystopian light. Instead they are being framed as people-friendly initiatives aimed at making life easier, more convenient, safer and more efficient, while of course stopping drug pushers, terrorists (real or presumed), and all other bogeymen (excluding of course those in government or the financial sector) in their tracks. It’s as if all the world needs to become a better, healthier, nicer, less crime-infested place is the complete abolition of paper and metal forms of money.

Here’s a perfect case in point courtesy of MasterCard:

“Even though much of the world’s population has access to many different options for making payments without it, cash still persists. As a way of making payment, cash takes time to get at, is riskier to carry, and by some estimates, cash costs society as much as 1.5% of GDP. Electronic payments on the other hand have been proven to boost economic growth, while advancing financial inclusion. It is for these reasons that countries around the world are working to make their payment systems less dependent on cash.”

What conveniently gets lost in all the hype are the potential downsides of a cashless economy, which are legion. They include the complete loss of personal anonymity and control over your own finances; the very serious risk of identity fraud, especially when biometric measurements are introduced; the ease with which government authorities will be able to confiscate (and probably never return) our hard-earned money; the likelihood of new or increased fees as financial intermediaries proliferate; and perhaps most grievous of all, the danger that your government or financial institutions can cut you off altogether from the money you own and need to survive, just as happened with Wikileaks when it published the biggest leaks in journalistic history, in October 2010.

Just over a week ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook predicted the death of cash, while out promoting Apple Pay, when he told students at Trinity College, Dublin, that their children “will not know what cash is.”

He may well be right. Those who want to kill cash already have vital technological and generational trends firmly on their side. They also have the added bonus of public ignorance, apathy and disinterest. As I warned a couple of weeks ago, the governments and banks’ strongest ally in their War on Cash is the general public itself. As long as people continue to abandon the use of cash, for the sake of a few minor gains in convenience, the War on Cash is already won. By Don Quijones, Raging Bull-Shit.

But who is the governments’ strongest ally in their War on Cash? Read…  “First They Came for the Pennies…” in the War on Cash

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  40 comments for “Who Exactly is Trying to Kill off Cash?

  1. Bob Miller says:

    With the text messaging herd now in control, the Rothschild’s Brotherhood couldn’t have picked a better time to implement this final step in their plan for absolute control of the lubricant that keeps the big wheel turning. There is one bright spot, the pious brotherhood will have a tough time getting these cell phone addicts to put “In God We Trust” on their phones and IPads.

  2. Mike G says:

    Surprised to see Denmark included in this. I was there recently and my hotel had a 6% surcharge for paying with a credit card. For some food transactions the vendors definitely preferred cash.

    • MC says:

      Yes, there’s a bit of difference between wishful thinking and reality.
      One of the chief reasons this little project (part of the trend to monetize and tax every single human activity “for the greater good”) will fail without coercion is that financial intermediaries apply some pretty hefty fees to transactions which business owners have to pay out of their own pockets.
      These fees are conveniently left out by the small band of propagandists hired by governments and financial intermediaries to “sell” their distopian vision upon the general public.

    • John says:

      There should be no fee if you pay with Dankort, the national debit card (see, for example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dankort).

  3. Keith says:

    We need a quid pro quo.

    We stop using cash and you close your tax havens.

    This still leaves the problem that doing away with cash requires a competent and stable banking system that does not exist.

  4. Jonathan Vause says:

    they might kill cash, but those who refuse to get with the program will find sth else to replace it – parallel currencies will spring up all over the place for sure

  5. Dan Romig says:

    Many pro sports teams, such as the Minnesota Timberwolves, have indeed worked to, “… include the complete loss of personal anonymity” by eliminating traditional paper tickets. Their goal is to eliminate StubHub and all individual transactions of the tickets after they have sold their tickets to season ticket holders and individuals.

    A season ticket holder who can’t attend a game has a couple of options, but the team and FlashTicket.com are kept in the loop. One can email the tickets to an individual they know who has a FlashTicket account, or they can set a price and post the ticket(s) on the Timberwolves or FlashTicket website, which are interlinked, and hope they sell.

    But everyone who goes inside the arena to watch the game must show their credit card and/or drivers license to authenticate their ownership of the ticket. The card(s) are swiped at the gate, and a small receipt is printed out and given to the fan with the seat location printed on it. Of course, this gives the team, the venue, the police and others a database of who’s where while the game is on, and I would assume that the Timberwolves and FlashTicket sell this information.

    The Powers That Be do want to eliminate cash, but they are power mad for control over everything we citizens do. Wanna go to a T-Wolves game? Big Brother will be glad to watch over you!

    • Dan Romig says:

      OK, not enough coffee when I incorrectly listed FlashTickets instead of Flash Seats.

  6. chistletoe says:

    “They” are not trying to “kill” cash. Not any more than “they” are trying to kill ISIS. After all, the heroin trade from Afghanistan is a serious source of CIA funding, right? “They” think that they can control it, reduce it. There are still people riding horseback today and there will always be cash and barter.

  7. walter map says:

    It’s called a Federal Reserve note. It has their name on it. And the Federal Reserve is run by the global bankster cartel. So it was never your money. It was always their money. They were just gracious enough to let you use it.

    One has to feel badly for young people these days, knowing that they have no hope for the future. They will not know what money is, but then, cows and chickens and pigs do not know what money is either. Livestock have no use for it.

    • Dave says:

      We are not only “allowed” to use it, we are then forced to pay interest on it in order to use it as currency.
      Interesting that it is called a Federal Reserve Note. A first year law student knows that any word for debt used in litigation is called a note.

  8. Mary says:

    I have absolutely no problem playing along with their cashless party, so long as I have my gold and silver stacked up. I ain’t gonna sell them for all the cash in the world.

    • Petunia says:

      Mary, I wish you well with your gold and silver. But I would rather be holding currency from real issuers, Yuan, Reales, Rupees, even Pesos. Currency is popular because it is convenient to use. Learn how to convert currencies from one to another and keep some around. Other than that stock up on stuff you can really use.

  9. Paulo says:

    Medical appointment down Island today means a stop at my favourite hole-in-the-wall restaurant. They have been in business since 1960 (approx.). The little Chinese grampa that owns it and still works there is reputed to be the richest man in that city, with one story about him lending someone $40,000 delivered in a brown paper bag, (and yes, I believe the story). Prominently displayed in the front take-out window is a big sign…. “No Chargex (long since crossed out but still on display), No Visa, No MasterCard, No Bank Cards……CASH ONLY.” I love this place and already have my $17.60 counted out which will buy my wife and I the best deluxe cheese burger around with fresh real fries and a drink. Or, we could have Chinese food….all eaten standing up, or across the road by the river sitting on a bench, or in your car while you listen to CBC or talk radio.

    This article reminds me why I always have a big envelop of cash hidden and have plans to weld up and install a fire-proof safe. “eff the banksters”!

    Over the years I have noticed that paying electronically is an almost meaningless experience. There is little feeling in the transaction, itself. But counting out some cash is different. The first keeps you on the hamster wheel and hating those window enevlopes that come in the mail…and the second (cash based) experience keeps you out of debt and looking forward to those positive mailbox experiences when you open the bank statement and count up the assets.

    My thirty year old son, with his own business, recently gave up his credit card (approx 1 year ago). It is a hassle for him, but keeps him out of debt. He does have a mortgage, and a home owner LOC for emergencies, but not having instant access to credit card debt keeps him out of debt. Period. I think he even has a cheque book; to quote him, “somewhere around here”.

  10. Kam says:

    Cash existed long before Central Banks were created. Cash will exist, in some form, when Central Banks are burned to the ground.

    Got a bellyache and going into diabetic shock from being force fed too much candy ? Krugman and Central Bankers have the solution, force feed liquid candy into your veins.

    When will these guys give up? Never- their incomes depend on Central Bank control.

  11. Hestia Benny says:

    Just launched in Ireland after testing it in two Irish counties is the permanent removal of all 1cent and 2 cent coins from circulation.

    The reasons are: costs too much to produce ( ie due to the debasement of the Euro etc, it cost more to produce than the monetary value they hold, people hoard these coins and many more reason given.

    It is deemed to be voluntary, most people are not aware of that, but the majority of the “sheep” are accepting it as defacto absolute!

    A process of rounding up or down to the next nearest 5cent or euro. eg recently in my local supermarket – bill one was say €28.99 I paid €29.00 next was bill 27.02 I paid €27 etc etc.

    To be awkwardly rebellious I demanded my cent from the teller, she said she couldn’t give it to me, I demanded the same from a manager who was called over and he said he couldn’t give it, only when I stated it was voluntary did he back down.

    Within a very short while they will be gone completely and where I have done other business, small SME’s their tills are empty already of 1 & 2 cent coins. No choice being given.

    Our cheque books will be gone in a few years , replaced by debit cards where percentages of total transactions cost are being taken by our banks ( after all the Irish citizens money that has been pumped into these banks the by our servile government etc.)

    Extortion at the highest level! ( a cheque fee max €0.50cent now SME’s etc face 1.5% to 2% total transaction charges. ( Only Independent politicians are fighting with the government over these issues, trying to protect business in their local areas, but to no avail as the Irish banks have to return to profitability, therefore, keep gouging more from the Irish citizens that bailed them out.

    All payments from the State and to the State is going completing cashless and as the above article eludes to, our government is pushing that agenda down our throats at every level of local and central government departments and connected agencies .

    The sadness thing in all of this, the majority of Irish people do not realise the true volume of debt on our shoulders as a country and our Irish governments of the future will need a “bail in ” when the euro crashes etc etc.

    As I believe Ireland is a test place for European changes, eg smoking ban, plastic bag levies and say now our coinage, watch and see how many Eurozone countries will follow suit when we have the job finished.

  12. Petunia says:

    The global financial system has failed and they can’t fix it. They need a reset in their favor. Much of the paper buried in pension funds and insurance companies can never be marked to market. Zero is not a confidence building number.

    Most of the value in the system is an illusion that still works because we all chose to go along with the illusion. They need a war to justify the reset or an outright confiscation of all financial assets. The war on cash is a step in that direction. When they control the power to spend they control the value of everything, and its distribution.

    Those of you who think you own your house, or land, or 401K, you don’t, and it will become clearer to you in a cashless society.

    • NotSoSure says:

      Or it has failed by design. Petunia touched a very important point here i.e. “we CHOOSE to go with the illusion.”

      I can’t come up with a species that deserves more of what we are currently getting.

    • d'Cynic says:

      They cannot admit that it cannot be fixed, and neither can they admit ignorance, past or present.
      I think, that rather than a complete reset or confiscation, it will be taken away by inflation. Bernanke admitted that much.
      Only it is not working according to plan because it just creates destabilizing asset bubbles.
      Cashless could also mean that nobody has any money left.
      During the depth of the financial crises, I actually kept some larger amount of cash at home in case there of run on the bank.
      After cash, I will have to get some gold as the last resort.

  13. Mel says:

    “by some estimates, cash costs society as much as 1.5% of GDP”
    I daresay credit- and debit-card processing fees are included in GDP, so they appear more advantageous.

    I suspect that the cost of providing cash will be a bargain compared to the cost of the extremely-available, extremely-secure network we’ll need to effect ALL of society’s business. Just the system we use now fails in a big way a couple of times a week; see Krebs on Security for details.

  14. Jungle Jim says:

    A more effective route to a totalitarian society can scarcely be imagined. If, for any reason, you anger the government, they can de-activate your credit card number and render you instantly penniless. It’s only a variation on the way that they deal with stolen credit cards now.

  15. Kreditanstalt says:

    But we don’t have “money” anymore anyway.

    We have base metal tokens with numbers on them which purport to indicate “value”. The governments have been engaged in the process of debasing “money” for decades and the result is that, while we may have “cash” or “currency”, we are now left in doubt as to what exactly constitutes “money”…

    With REAL-term economic growth probably gone for good, “investment” has also died. It has been replaced with speculation and betting: a desperate chase for YIELD.

    Anyone now attempting to amass capital – to “save”, because that’s all that remains absent “investment” – will increasingly do it in GOLD. Or even in David Stockman’s tins of baked beans…

  16. Shawn says:

    To the central banks, big banks and tech dweebs:

    “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” ―Princess Leia.

  17. AC says:

    They have already sucked all but the last bit of value out of the currency. They may as well eliminate their silly tokens as well.


    I suspect that in twenty years, we’ll be back to using sound money – because the fantasy paper fiat system is already crumbling.

  18. Sabbie says:

    Another downside you forgot to mention is the ability to expand taxation to more types of transactions.

  19. ML says:

    Much as I am a devotee of cash, it is very much a health risk. Coins and notes being handled by any number of people. We are exposed to all manner of germs and bacteria.

    • Kam says:

      Health risks by handling cash ? Toughen up, your body will develop defenses.

      Anyway, you are more likely to get some street drug, like cocaine, tingling your fingers.

      Cashless, means more and more control in fewer and fewer hands. Our society is being torn apart by greed and corruption.

    • Jungle Jim says:

      If you are really concerned, I’ll take the problem off your hands.

    • Robert says:

      Then you should welcome a return to PM-backed money: silver, for example is highly antibacterial and virucidal, and in a pinch a cross made out of it sends vampire bankers fleeing in terror to their lairs. In my own lifetime, when it was silver-backed, the best thing a doctor could tell you was that you were sound as a dollar- now he could be sued for causing mental anguish

  20. Kreditanstalt says:

    This is *NOT* a benign or innocuous campaign! Nothing to joke about.

    I suspect the elimination of cash will continue to be more of a ‘process’ than a singular ‘event’. Canada has eliminated the penny, degraded the coinage to zinc-coated steel ( it RUSTS!) and plasticized the paper checks “banknotes” already…

    This will most certainly drive people into barter, the use of gold and silver or even perhaps foreign coinage…

  21. Genevieve Hawkins says:

    A cashless society has another downside: all commerce is gone if there is an EMP event or major power grid failure. No bank, grocery store, gas station, public transport, farmer’s market. It sounds like a they want to tie civilization to a poorly propped up house of cards…

    • d says:

      It gives them the ability to have emp’s when ever they like.

      After each one.

      You will owe them, what they say you owe them, whilst you, will have, and they will owe you, nothing.

  22. goldismoney says:

    Please don’t misunderstand the valid uses for gold and silver.

    A change to a cashless society puts them in control of all, and as stated by a prior poster, it is their money/fiat. We are only allowed various levels of access.

    We discuss this and more here

  23. gene says:

    can’t understand this i guess its to hard for an old man to grasp. but the cards that will serve for money when used will they still work if the power is out?

    • d says:

      exactly the card system, just like the electricity system, can be shut down with a 1 line keyboard entry, should the powers so desire.

  24. Observer says:

    Yes it all sounds very desperate for those trying to control the masses. Get rid of any present means of exhange and Joe Blog looses personal freedom and the right to be independent and independently use their cash, their currencies, their gold, their bit coins etc etc

    What about the already massive digital exchange fraud just over our purchases via the Internet? How much of this is keeping the present global financial system going? Who trusts those in control when they have proven how badly they are able to manage their alone let alone the masses’ finances. What institutions needed the masses to bail them out as recently as 2008? Who has forgotten what happened and is still happening? Who is still waiting for the masses to receive
    back the interest on the bail out funds the masses paid for? Who is fooling who here? The control illusion burst long ago
    our dear controllers. The grab for even greater reserves you
    are rushing to amass in the hope of gaining your security over the future is all but an even bigger illusion itself.

    What’s in for the masses to go cashless or move to digital currency alone? How does this help the old, the sick, the
    poor, the rich, the technologically adverse etc all who value their freedom of choice and freedom to use whatever form of
    exchange they wish to? Who knows better than yourself what
    is best for you and your finances? Why would any of us give
    up our right to use cash if we so wish? How about we all keep
    exerting this right as much as we are can, in how we go about
    making our daily purchases? .

    Keep exercising your fullchoices, your control and no one can
    ever control anyone at the end of the day. How simple the solution is. Who puts all their eggs in one basket in any case? Keep using your cash, your credit cards, your gold, your bit coins, your foreign currency etc etc and keep the controllers from being able to control your finances. Have fun. It is all very liberating

  25. major says:

    Could this be another way of nullifying the rise of Gold. Gold is imminently going to dominant the world monetary realm and supersede paper money. Central banks don’t want this because it will destroy their control of the World economy. Could cashless money blunt the rise of Gold as the monetary standard? Could this be why they are scrambling so hard to create a cashless economy. Does this eliminate inflation? Does this allow Central Banks to manipulate the value of electronic cash while paper money will be devalued?

  26. Ed says:

    The better to freeze your bank account with, my dear.

  27. derfel cadarn says:

    Anything the government is pushing is NOT in your interests ! For supposedly being a servant of the People government certainly hands out a lot of orders.

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