Cashless societies have been getting a lot of press recently, thanks to India’s recent move towards demonetization. And while many Indians are struggling with this sudden transition, Sweden is slowly becoming a cashless state. Over the past 7 years, hard cash usage in the Scandinavian country decreased by 40 percent. Meanwhile, if Black Friday is any indication, the UK is headed towards cashless as well, with a 13 percent uptake in non-cash purchases compared to the year before.
There are many questions hovering around the concept of cashless countries - How? When? Who? - but there are also some concrete certainties. Here are three stranger than fiction situations that won’t be a problem once the world foregoes cash.
People dying in line to access cash
India’s path towards monetization is strewn with casualties -- literally. Over three dozen people died waiting in line to exchange old rupees for new, and, perhaps more disturbingly, when they were refused healthcare because they didn’t have the right type of currency. A completely cashless society wouldn’t need to create new bills to combat fraud, and would thus avoid the queues, the protests, the mobs locking up bankers, and most importantly the senseless deaths.
Animal fat in pound notes
We are not making this up. Animal rights activists in the UK have taken umbrage with the Bank of England, after the latter revealed back in September 2016 that the new five pound notes contain tallow, a rendered form of beef or mutton fat. A petition has been launched to change the chemical makeup of the note. Obviously, in a world without cash, there are no notes, and hence no currency related run-ins with animal rights activists.
We don’t really need to say more, but we will. The European ATM Security Team reported that during the first half of 2016, criminals blew up 492 ATMs across Europe -- an 80 percent increase from the same period the year before. And while we can’t vouch for an explosionless world, a cashless world will at least rule out the possibility of being injured by greedy criminals at an ATM.
A cashless world has its own sets of challenges, including inclusiveness for low-income populations, fraud prevention and curtailing frivolous spending habits, more closely associated with credit cards than with cash. It’s even possible to imagine that peoples and entire countries might protest cashlessness. However, it’s comforting to think that a cashless currency will never, ever directly involve animal fat.