We’ve been hearing for yonks about the pros and cons of the cashless society we’re supposedly hurtling towards, but now even the International Monetary Fund has seen the light. Honestly, those cash-only stores have no excuse at this point.
There is objectively no greater disappointment than getting to the till at a convenience store and seeing a big old ‘NO EFTPOS’ sign slapped across the register. You do that loose change jiggle as you search your wallet and pockets but it’s futile, and you leave hungry and dejected.
So wouldn’t it be marvelous if there was no cash at all? No reason for businesses to exclude you right at that last hurdle? There’s a decent rationale behind the shift – after all, you’re not alone in your frustration. According to research commissioned by the ATO, nearly half of us find cash-only to be “inconvenient”, and even more reckon it’s a sign of dishonesty.
Working in cash is what creates a black economy, where companies and employees can shield their transactions from prying eyes for tax-avoidance purposes. Without a paper trail, cash-in hand payments also leave employees more vulnerable to being ripped off.
Becoming a cashless society would make life look a little different, but maybe not by all that much. It’s all about the Australian consumer’s demand for convenience – in 2016, only about a third of payments were made in cash. Still, it’s not a flawless system, and there are some slightly shady reasons why banks and organisations like the IMF are pushing it so hard.
Getting rid of cash – which sets the ‘floor’ for the value of interest at zero – would allow banks to set negative interest rates. This is great if you’re planning on making a bunch of investments and taking out loans, because it would force the banks to pay you for it. Profit.
But if you’re a risk-adverse individual like me, who very much values being able to tuck away savings in an everyday account, the bank would be able to take some of your money for the privilege. It’s like a punishment for being sensible! But of course, the market is always right…
And I think we’re all forgetting the true victims of a cashless society – hip-hop artists and rappers. If video killed the radio star, then the cashless revolution killed the video star. Are we going to force Lil Wayne to start waving credit cards around while he spits sick bars?
On the flip side, at least in the near future you’ll be able to get a takeaway without raiding an ATM first. It’s much easier to validate your choice to go into the red when there isn’t a giant screen there to confront you about it.