The idea of a “cashless society” is something we’re all going to have to get used to, ok?
One way or another, banknotes and coins will join gold in the “barbarous relic” category before it’s all said and done.
Of course the transition to some kind of government-controlled, bitcoin-ish system is generally justified by an appeal to putting the Tony Sopranos of the world out of business.
One can’t, after all, engage in paid illicit activity if said payments leave a permanent electronic paper trail (yeah I know, “electronic paper trail” is kind of oxymoronic).
Having been forced, at various times, to propagate them, I’m not really one for conspiracy theories. That said, it’s worth noting that a transition to a cashless system would certainly help central bankers with the whole “effective lower bound” problem.
In fact, it would eliminate it.
If you ban cash, you can micromanage the economy quite effectively. That is, if people can’t opt to hold physical currency in their mattresses, then you can force them to do whatever you want. Consumer spending down? No problem. Push deposit rates to negative 25% and see how many people prefer to take that haircut on their savings instead of spending their money. Economy running hot? Again, no problem. Pay people 25% on their savings and watch consumer spending contract.
Of course that’s not something the PhD economists employed by governments are going to come out and say. Instead the “ban cash” push (as exemplified by the ECB’s decision to stop production of the €500 note) will be justified by a series of comical appeals to crime prevention.
Here’s the latest such appeal courtesy of Danish politician Brian Mikkelsen (via The Copenhagen Post):
A new law being proposed in Parliament would allow shops in Denmark to decide for themselves whether they will accept payment in cash during nighttime hours.
Since the introduction of the Dankort in 1984, shops have been required to accept cash if the customer insists. The debate has also existed since then as to whether shops could drop cash as a payment method.
Nighttime is the wrong time … for cash
Now a majority in Parliament backed by Brian Mikkelsen, the business and growth minister, has agreed to propose legislation that would allow shops to decide for themselves whether they will accept cash payments between 10 pm and 6 am. The aim, according to those behind the law change, is to protect stores against robberies and provide security for employees.
“It will offer a sense of security and safety,” Mikkelsen told DR Nyheder. “A person will not have their entire life destroyed because someone has held a gun or a knife to their head.”