Who In Their Right Mind Would Want A Cashless Society?

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 19, 2012
Updated • Sep 1, 2018

I pay with cash wherever I go. Heck, I would pay in cash online if there was a possibility for it. Doing so has a number of reasons, from privacy over reduced direct or indirect fees to avoiding overspending. It also seems to be a lot faster than paying by card, at least in my country where you often either have to type in your security code or sign a receipt before the transaction is finalized.

Nothing's worse than having to stand in line behind someone who is buying a pack of bubblegum with a card.

You probably have read that there is a movement in Sweden to make the country the first cashless economy in the world. ZDnet for instance ran the story today, but they have not been the first to do so. It actually dates back at least to 2010 when the New American published the article Sweden Considers Cashless Society.

society without cash

Before I take a look at why a cashless society is bad for the majority of people, I'd like to take a look at the other side. Who is advocating a cashless society, and why?

As far as Sweden goes, it seems that a group of government officials, celebrities, and unions are pushing towards a cashless society. The core reason mentioned is a drop in robberies ever since the society turned to electronic transactions. According to information posted by the Huffington Post, bank robberies in Sweden are down from 110 in 2008 too 16 in 2011, and robberies of security transports are down as well.

While that is an impressive drop, there is no study that links the reduction to the shrinkage of the cash economy in the northern European country. The same article mentions that bills and coins represent 3 percent of Sweden's economy, a stark contrast to the 7% in the U.S and the 9% in Europe.

How do ordinary people benefit from a cashless society? Some like ABBA's Bjoern Ulvaeus believe that less people will get robbed as a consequence, as robbers can't take away what's not there. He fails to mention that bank cards can still be exploited, right now for instance when people withdraw money but there will be possibilities in a cashless society as well, for instance through impersonation.

A cashless society however has several other consequences:

  • It is possible to track every transaction that is made electronically. While that in itself is bad enough from a privacy point of view, it can also mean that people change their spending. Some people might not spend money on things that they do not want to be linked to. This can be a donation or a purchase for instance. Some agencies would be tempted to get their hands on those information, for instance for tax or law enforcement purposes.
  • Overspending is fueled by credit and debit card transactions, as it is more difficult to keep track of all expenses and easier to spend more money because it can be done with a card. If you only have cash, you never can spend more than you have on you.
  • Fees for transactions, either indirect by charging the merchant, or direct by charging a fee for every transaction, mean that you will pay more for goods and transactions, and that it is even more of a nuisance to keep track of the spending.
  • Trading could become popular again. While you can't pay your neighbor for painting your house anymore without the tax bureau taking note, you could trade services or goods instead. It is also not clear how you would pay someone else. Would you have to go through a bank to do that? How would you pay that 14 year old girl for baby sitting your kids or the kid operating a lemonade stand? How would you make payments on the Flee Market?

What's your take on the development? Do you think that things are progressing in the right direction?

Article Name
Who In Their Right Mind Would Want A Cashless Society?
The article discusses the negative effects and impacts that a cashless society would likely have on the society in general and individual people.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [https://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/04/add-search-the-internet-to-the-windows-start-menu/] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [https://www.ghacks.net/2012/08/04/add-search-the-internet-to-the-windows-start-menu/] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL: https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

  14. justputthispostanywhere said on September 29, 2023 at 3:59 am

    I’m not sure if there is a point in commenting given that comments seem to appear under random posts now, but I’ll try… this comment is for https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/28/reddit-enforces-user-activity-tracking-on-site-to-push-advertising-revenue/

    My temporary “solution”, if you can call it that, is to use a VPN (Mullvad in my case) to sign up for and access Reddit via a European connection. I’m doing that with pretty much everything now, at least until the rest of the world catches up with GDPR. I don’t think GDPR is a magical privacy solution but it’s at least a first step.

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