A Cashless Society
Electronic cash is a term becoming more acceptable as the world makes a shift towards a cashless society. Since the 1960’s governments and financial institutions have made steady but slow steps towards the goal of a society without cash. The cashless society is being sold as a more convenient method of payment, and a method of preventing crimes all the way from the robbery of cash from an individual to the extent of money laundering among crime syndicates. The move to use electronic cash in an ironically termed society dubbed “cashless”; there are many issues that include security, privacy, crime and computerization.
We as a society must as a whole be comfortable with this new shift or the tendency to rebel becomes prominent. As the financial institutions have implemented such things as debit cards, credit cards, internet banking, etc, it has slowly brought society into the acceptance zone whereby another step could be taken. Without society being able to understand the pros and cons of electronic cash, the full benefit of the cashless society may never be realized. A Cashless Society A World with Electronic Banking
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The purpose of this writing is to make people aware of the issues surrounding the topic of electronic cash and it’s tendencies towards the cashless society. Electronic cash, or other disguised methods of conducting business transactions without cash, have been around since the 1960’s, and have become more predominant in today’s society. This essay will discuss some of the main points of concern when talking about a world without visible cash, a world that seems to some as “make-believe”.
It discusses the very important issue of non-acceptance of electronic cash, which is still predominant among the elderly. There does seem to be an undeniable trend towards the use of electronic cash, especially during the last decade. Despite small pockets of society rebelling against this movement, it has grown dramatically, especially in the use of internet banking and bank card facilities. Social aspects are a part of our everyday lives, and certainly not trivial in regards to this topic. A few points of interest of the social impacts of electronic cash will be discussed, such as time and convenience.
A darker side of money will be briefly talked about, and whether electronic cash will make criminal activities a thing of the past, or simple move them to a white collar level. The world is run by computers in today’s society. It was only a matter of time for this to be transferred into the money market. Waiting in line at a bank is now a thing of the past, ATM’s and internet banking have entered the market share. One thing that will be discussed is the “Big Brother” image that leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you know that anything done on a computer can be traced.
Privacy now has an important role to play in society, and will be discussed further in this essay. Electronic cash in itself is not evil, nor is money itself; it is the love of money that is evil and breeds greed and other nasty habits. The age of electronic cash is slowly ushering in the cashless society, where no buying or selling will be done with cash; rather it will be computer based, hence the need for electronic cash (Regan, 2007). The world of electronic cash is slowly squeezing out the coins and dollars we know and put value on.
There is something about being able to feel that money, rather than a piece of plastic. In fact many of the elderly do not want anything to do with plastic (credit cards, bank cards, etc. ) let alone internet banking, even though some of the previously mentioned have been around for almost 50 years. The entire world is slowly moving towards a cashless society. This can be considered good, or it could be considered bad by others. Here are a few good points about electronic banking; checks are a thing of the past. The Payments Council made an announcement to the effect that by 2018 checks would be dead.
Making paper payments is no longer viable in the 21st Century (LLBlynch, 2009). The paying of bills used to be a matter of sending checks in the post, now people set up direct debits to pay for their bills and they are encourage to do so by being offered discounts on the bill. This form of payment is quicker and more reliable. The same arguments can be made for completely replacing cash with card payments. The internet has been a major factor in moving away from a cash society. We have become more accustom to using card payments. We now shop online and are very much used to the process.
From furniture, to holidays, to cloths to electrical goods, we have seen firsthand how easy it is to buy online. This has drawn us in to this form of cashless shopping. With our attitude towards card payments becoming increasingly more amicable, eventually it is inevitable that we will do away with the time consuming cash and start using card for every form of payment. Crime will become less of a problem because the black market would suffer. People would not be able to make cash payments in back alleys for drugs and other illegal products. They would also not want to use the card payment system because this is traceable.
It is the way cash can be traced that makes the authorities want to get rid of it. With no cash, there would be no cash in hand jobs. Therefore, every penny earned would be counted in our tax system. There is a lot of talk about the convenience of electronic cash, the time it saves individuals, etc, but the social aspect of what people do, and are used to doing, should not be left out. With people not having to go to banks, creditors, or other places to pay their debts, the social aspect must be addressed. What will this do to us as a society? Is it possible for this to be detrimental to society on a whole? Smith, 2009). Sure it saves us time, is more convenient from most people’s point of view, but is this a positive thing taking into consideration that this may well be the only point of contact many people have with others? Let’s consider the example of internet shopping. An individual can complete their order online via the internet and have their week’s supply of groceries at their doorstep with the hour. By accepting and embracing this type of behavior in lieu of convenience and a few moments of time we are actually doing society an injustice.
The option must be left open to those who chose to live this type of life for instance younger people, but we should not close the door on the individuals that want, and need, to have this type of socialization in their everyday lives. Many financial institutions across the world have adapted to the change towards the cashless society by implementing electronic funds transfer via automated teller machines (ATM’s) and of late, the internet. By having a simple plastic card, society could completely eliminate the need for cash. The benefits range from the end user through to the government and the merchants.
The end user now has no worries about being robbed; there is no cash to steal. Society no longer has to worry about thieves because there is no more cash to steal. Society no longer has to spend enormous amounts of tax dollars supporting our criminal/jail system due to the reduced crime in this area. Merchants now reduce the amount of paper trail they have and can use computerized systems to handle this for them. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Once we take a step back and look at the big picture, we notice that there is a very dark side to this indeed.
The key point to understand here is what everything revolves around, and the answer to that would be the government. Suddenly, under this new system, the government has total control over everything we do. It can also be used to control social laws; to ensure what society has decided is “correct” social behavior (Morrow, 2007). Although there are many advantages to utilizing a cashless society, one of the main disadvantages is the disappearance of the privacy of individuals. There may be a large portion of society that may object to “Big Brother” observing their every move.
One opinion of this is that if you are not doing anything wrong, than what do you have to fear? The other side of the coin is what business is it of anyone else what I am doing if I am not adversely affecting anyone else. People value their ability to make some of their purchases using cash, with absolutely no record, electronic log, or audit trail of those transactions, as a way to safeguard their privacy. Electronic cash is a system which allows individuals to purchase goods or services in today’s society without the exchange of anything tangible.
The term money still exists, but it is more in an electronic form than previously. This paper has tried to identify some the important issues which have been, or will be encountered in cashless society brought on in part by electronic cash. Some of the issues include: Electronic banking vs. checks, social aspects, the black market, the computerized world, and privacy. This paper discussed some of the benefits and concerns surrounding each of these issues. Not all of the issues were discussed nor investigated during the research of this paper. It is very likely that it has only scratched the surface of the subject.
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