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THE WAR AGAINST CASH IS HERE

 
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thomas davison
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Joined: 03 Jun 2005
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Location: northumberland

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:46 am    Post subject: THE WAR AGAINST CASH IS HERE Reply with quote

The cynical conspiracy to stop us using cash: ROSS CLARK says the push for a cashless society is all about greed
By Ross Clark for the Daily Mail
PUBLISHED: 01:42, 3 November 2017 | UPDATED: 01:45, 3 November 2017

Until 2014 if you drove over the Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex, you’d toss some coins into a basket when you reached the toll booth.

Now the booths are gone and motorists must pay online in advance of their journey, or by midnight the following day.

Try to park your car on a London street or in an increasing number of car parks nationwide, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a pay and display machine.

Until 2014 if you drove over the Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex, you¿d toss some coins into a basket when you reached the toll booth. +3
Until 2014 if you drove over the Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex, you’d toss some coins into a basket when you reached the toll booth.

The only way to pay is via your mobile phone to call a central number or by an app such as RingGo or JustPark.

Some shops, such as the healthy eating chain Tossed, are even starting to refuse cash — they’re only interested in customers who pay by card.

Waitrose is also piloting cashless payments, while in many pubs, bars and restaurants you are immediately offered a card reader along with the bill, and staff seem mightily put out if they have to use the till.


As for travel, the Government aims to make all rail travel cashless by 2025, with passengers buying their tickets online, with a bank card, or via their mobile phone.

Indeed, the growing use of card and contactless payments is such that this week ATM operators announced they are considering axeing 10,000 machines from their networks.

The cashless economy is being forced on us by stealth as electronic payment increasingly becomes the only option.

The argument in its favour is convenience, but the truth is that it’s all about greed.

Firstly, there is the opportunity to collect fees. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that banks and payment companies such as Visa and Mastercard currently make $1 trillion annually worldwide in fees — typically paid by the retailer — for processing electronic payments.

Try to park your car on a London street or in an increasing number of car parks nationwide, and you¿ll be hard-pressed to find a pay and display machine +3
Try to park your car on a London street or in an increasing number of car parks nationwide, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a pay and display machine

This is predicted to double by 2023 as consumers, either through choice or coercion, switch to electronic methods of payment.

And it won’t be just the retailers who are being fleeced. Currently, consumers are rarely charged fees to use credit cards and debit cards, but you can bet that would change if there was no option to pay in cash.

An even bigger prize is the opportunity that cashless payments offer to large corporations to collect vast amounts of personal information about individuals.

We are familiar with how tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter harvest information about us via our internet searches and so on.

But few of us are aware that we are also feeding a vast data machine whenever we use our credit and debit cards.

But few of us are aware that we are also feeding a vast data machine whenever we use our credit and debit cards +3
But few of us are aware that we are also feeding a vast data machine whenever we use our credit and debit cards

This data — where, when and what we buy — can be sold on so other retailers can target us with advertising for similar products.

What we pay for in cash leaves no electronic trace and is a missed opportunity as far as the marketing industry is concerned. They want to be able to track every detail of our financial lives.

With full and instant access to data on our spending habits and financial resources, businesses can tailor their marketing to individuals and increase the chances of a purchase.

They may even adjust prices according to what they know about our income or where we live — higher prices for the more affluent.

There are more sinister aspects to consider, too: if we buy train tickets using a mobile phone, for example, then our movement around the network could be tracked. If we boarded the wrong train or used an off-peak ticket at a peak period by mistake, we could be instantly charged a penalty fare.

Data gleaned from our spending — in hotels or while abroad — might be used by insurance companies to work out how many nights we spend away from home.

If we were found to have spent more time away than specified in the terms of our policy, insurers could use the information to void a claim.

The tax office, meanwhile, would be able to track everything we spend, matching it to income and leading to greater scrutiny of our tax returns. It wouldn’t just be tax cheats who got picked on in this way — anyone who went on a spending spree, perhaps using savings or a legacy, would be inviting attention.

As for the health service, with access to data on all the food and drink we buy one can foresee a day when people might be denied NHS treatment on the grounds of their inappropriate lifestyles.

Some might argue that none of this matters, that they don’t mind having their shopping habits snooped upon. But surely we should be asked for our consent before personal data is used for commercial gain in this way?

It is worth noting that a previous government once considered doing away with cash as a matter of policy. Pressed to come up with a big idea to enliven David Cameron’s 2015 party conference speech, a Downing Street aide, Daniel Korski, hit upon a bold plan: why not announce the intention to turn Britain into the world’s first cashless economy by 2020?

According to Korski, discussions centred on promoting a cashless society as a way to cut fraud and tax evasion. Electronic payments, in theory at least, would leave a trail allowing more criminals to be caught.

The plan didn’t make it into the speech because the then Chancellor, George Osborne, was worried that the public would not be ready for such a drastic change.

The Cameron government believed that going cashless would cut crime because electronic payments are theoretically traceable. That would be a more valid argument were it not for the explosion in online fraud which resulted in Britons losing a total of £755 million in 2015, much of it quickly siphoned abroad. What we have learned is that just because electronic payments are theoretically traceable doesn’t mean that the police or anyone else is actually bothering to do the tracing.

Nevertheless, the withdrawal of cash from the economy is continuing, with little regard to the downsides.

One of those is systems failures. If cash were to be eradicated we would become utterly dependent on computer networks which have proved highly vulnerable.

In June 2012, a technician in Hyderabad in India made a small error while inputting data for an upgrade to the RBS computer system. The following day, customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank found themselves unable to make card payments, causing massive inconvenience and distress.

This has happened to RBS and others on several occasions since. At present, banks experiencing a computer failure can at least open their doors and allow customers to withdraw cash in person — as RBS did in 2012.

Many people, in any case, will keep some cash at home in case of just such an emergency.

If we no longer had the option of paying with cash, a computer failure would not be so easy to deal with and could cause the seizure of the entire economy.

The growing prevalence of technology that allows us to make payments with mobile phones via apps raises its own issues.

There is no way that, through choice, I will ever pay for anything using my mobile phone. For one thing I don’t regard it as secure. We are warned not to access our bank accounts on insecure wi-fi networks, so why would you ever risk making a payment via a mobile phone?

I have also lost count of the number of times I have taken my phone out of my pocket and realised the battery has run down.

If my phone had to serve as wallet and train ticket as well as communications device, this would leave me stranded, unable to travel or buy anything.

Nor do I want to fiddle around with a mobile phone every time I want to make a small purchase which previously I could make with a few coins. When I attempted to pay for a ticket in a car park via a mobile phone recently, it took me 15 minutes to find adequate coverage and download the required app.

Using mobile phones might come naturally to youthful policymakers in Whitehall but it doesn’t to everybody. Only 18 per cent of the over-65s own a smartphone, while one in ten Britons has never used the internet. What happens to them when nobody will take notes and coins?

Going cashless is indeed convenient — but it is for the convenience and profit of faceless corporations and the tech giants.

A ‘cashless society’ might sound modern and efficient, but we will live to regret it if we allow government and big business between them to abolish the option of paying in cash.
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