Thoughts on a Cashless Society








Image courtesy of

Guardian: Does a cashless society make for a surveillance state?
by Brett Scott

Scott discusses the potential for mass surveillance in a cashless society and the opportunities that arise from algorithmic currencies. He highlights how much easier monitoring citizens will become through micro payments and card transactions. With the removal of cash money as the main currency into credit card transactions the cashless society provides endless data for every single exchange between people in society and the question becomes who should own that data? Currently banks are researching how they could use the blockchain (what bitcoin is built upon) to create their own crypto-currency. These crypto-currencies would be made with the same technology as bitcoin but will be centralized, privatized and managed by the banks. For many crypto-currency believers the thought of the banks using a decentralized p2p network to make a centralized trading system is fundamentally absurd. The ideology behind bitcoin for unregulated trading and freedom from centralized control is threatened and potentially ruined by a bank owned crypto-currency. The Bank of England is already envisioning the potential benefits of having their own crypto-currency because it would save them so much money. Scott mentions a speech by Andrew Haldane where he outlines how a state governed crypto-currency could solve current problems such as low interest rates and low economic growth. But there interests are not purely economical. With a state issued crypto-currency you could tax people for purchasing illegal substances, or deny payments for certain things altogether. The bitcoin and blockchain payments could change who owns financial data but a bank owned crypto-currency would not only retain that information they could potentially set the rules of what you can and cannot buy. Similar to a firewall on the internet, where browsing becomes limited to safe and secure sites, the banks would make a crypto-currency from only recommended safe and secure sellers. The potential fear for bitcoin believers is that the banks will successfully rebrand bitcoin to offer a safe and secure transaction system that converts the mass public into using blockchain as a form of payment. Then the design and social possibly created by blockchain is hijacked and becomes a replica of the same financial system on a new platform.

bitcoin qrcode.100x100_1
By Max Dovey