What is a cashless society?
A cashless society is one in which the form of physical cash, such as bank notes and coins, will disappear and be replaced with digital currencies and information. The UK along with many other nations are headed towards this and there are many arguments for and against. it's said that 'more than 23million people in the UK used virtually no cash last year' and 'notes and coins will account for just 6% of payments within a decade'. The use of credit and debit cards, payment apps, mobile payments and virtual currencies that many people use today could pave the way to this cashless society for the future. Evidentially this is quite a rapid movement towards a cashless society, and some are concerned that it may leave people behind.
What are the pros & cons?
As said there are many arguments surrounded by this type of society, with mostly older generations against moving to only digital transfers while there is less concern shown by younger generations. Although a large amount of people in the UK are concerned, there are some plus sides to only using digital transfers. For example, efficiency and convenience, the main reason we're so quickly headed to this society in the first place is due to the convenience and efficiency of using technologies such as apple pay and contactless. with this you don't have to worry about how much cash you need to take out with you as everything is in one place. in relation to this, using only digital ways of paying means there is less chance of getting mugged if you aren't carrying any cash. with security on phones and limits on contactless bank cards, there may be some peace of mind delivered to users.
Another benefit to a cashless society is that there will likely be a reduce in crime surrounded by money. For example, there is no tangible money for people to steal resulting in less thefts. There will also be a digital paper trail on where someone's money comes from and where it goes, resulting in a lot less money laundering. This along with some other things is why the UKs society is moving towards cashless. However, a lot of people are unaware of what a cashless society is and how rapidly we are moving towards it.
in my opinion, the cons outweigh the pros with this argument and we need to focus on keeping cash alive. one of the disadvantages to a cashless society is based around privacy. when using only digital methods of payments, banks and governments can see exactly what you're spending your money on, where you spend it and when you spend it. This results in a huge lack of privacy and people you don't know can determine your buying habits and where you are anytime they want. Although many will not be bothered by this, there is a threat that in the future our government could change from being a democracy (meaning 'rule of the people') to a form of government where there is only one or a few people holding power and citizens do not get a say. If this ever happens while we are in a cashless society, the government will be able to control what we are buying. in an extreme case, the government could even put a limit on how much certain types of food we're allowed to buy. Another worry slightly related to a lack of privacy is an increase in cyber attacks. As a lot of things move online, there is an increasing amount of cyber attacks towards all kinds of platforms including online banking. This can put your privacy at risk and also your money, so it is vital that online banks update their security along with newer trends.
Another concern about this rapid movement towards a cashless society is the fear that it will leave people behind. For example a lot of elderly people, or even middle aged, haven't quite grasped the concept of digital means of payment and once moved to a cashless society they may be left behind. But the biggest group of people that this poses as a threat to is homeless people / people living on the streets. Many homeless people rely on passers by to drop some cash into their cup, but how can they gather enough cash to pay for a sandwich if there is none?
A final disadvantage to this society is that if there is no alternative source of money and any technical issues or hacker activity then how will people be able to pay if that was the only means of payment.
Overall, I would personally vote against a cashless society and start to use cash more frequently to avoid it. But what do you think?