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How Feasible is a Cash-Less Society?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the prying-that-$2-bill-out-of-my-cold-dead-hands dept.

The Almighty Buck 617

vocaljess asks a question that has been on many a mind over the past decade, if not longer: "I just today realized that it has been over a week since I physically handled cash money. Due to the use of checks, debit cards, online shopping, automatic bill pay, direct deposit, etc, my family operates on a cash-less basis in the vast majority of our business transactions. With more and more establishments accepting credit/debit cards, how many others are heading the same way?" Are the advantages of a cash-less society really all that advantageous? One of the largest proposed advantages of a cash-less society is one of limited-theft, well even though money in a cash-less society wouldn't be tangible, it's no less just takes a theif of a different calibur to pull it off. Do you feel we are heading toward a cash-less society? Do you think if such a thing were to happen we'd be any better off than we are today?

"Think about this: if the cumulative value of everything in the world were expressed in measures of gold, which theoretically backs the majority of world currencies, does enough gold physically exist to back the paper money value, or has the paper money itself become valuable?

And what about this: how is it that the people who depend upon cash are usually in the middle of the financial spectrum, neither the poorest nor the richest? In most extreme poverty situations, transactions are based on barter. For most middle class people and above, transactions involve checks, credit, and electronic fund transfers. For the working poor, most transactions are done in cash. How does all of this add up to the trend toward a cash-less society, where money is nothing more than numbers in a computer transferred from one account to another, to another? How far off is that future?"

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cash less society? (-1, Troll)

kz45 (175825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341461)

I can.

Re:cash less society? (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341485)

Osama bin Laden, naked and petrified with hot grits on his turban.

Re:cash less society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341584)

Can someone explain the "hot grits" thing?

What is this? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341467)

Kuro5hin hour? Whats next? `Why do we have money anyway; can`t we just swap things? I`m sure that would work. I spent my whole maths lesson thinking about it, and i`m sure i`m right`.


egg troll (515396) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341520)

This parent will be the most accurate thing said in this thread. Please mod it up.

This will mean the end of Steak-n-Shake (4, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341476)

Those bastards at Steak-n-Shake will never switch to accepting non-cash methods of payment.

Re:This will mean the end of Steak-n-Shake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341549)

Any chain that slowly shrinks the diameter of its burgers and gives you smaller and smaller plates of fries deserves trouble. Their burgers are smaller than White Castle.

Bastards! All of 'em!

Re:This will mean the end of Steak-n-Shake (1)

ThomMust (174974) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341567)


was i dreaming when i paid for my bill at steak-n-shake with a visa card? i thought that the sit-down customers could do that....

and if i was dreaming about that, damn, i need to buy better dreams.

..right with a paper-less office (3, Insightful)

Drunken_Jackass (325938) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341478)

I like cash. I also like paper. I'll bet i'm not the only one.

When it comes right down to it - there are a lot of intangibles that using cash provides - plus, is it really faster to swipe, enter a PIN and wait for authorization, than it is to get $2.15 change from a 5?

Me thinks not.

Re:..right with a paper-less office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341528)

Nope. It's faster to swipe, print, and sign than wait for change. Plus, carrying cash is heavy and uncomfortable.

Re:..right with a paper-less office (1)

Drunken_Jackass (325938) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341610)

Gimme a break. You can't tell me that swiping and/or writing a check is faster that good ol' cash! And as far as carrying heavy cash around - it works better if you have one of those burlap sacks with the $ printed in green on the side. They're made to distribute the load evenly!

Don't you ever use your change at vending machines, or give money to homless folks? BTW what will the homeless folks do without cash - or street performers, or bellhops, or cabbies, or grandchildren...what will future generations use to decide who has to get the pizza (the side with the numbers on my debit card is heads).

Cash has ruled us since we moved from beads and shiny trinkets, and it will continue to rule far passed when we move to Unified Space Credits!!

Re:..right with a paper-less office (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341532)

It IS faster, because the high-school age drone behind the counter doesn't have to type in 5, followed by 2 zeros - something that less of the people in my area are able to do successfully. On the other hand, I did start to get change for $500 one time, so there are some benefits there too...

Re:..right with a paper-less office (1)

mph (7675) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341555)

plus, is it really faster to swipe, enter a PIN and wait for authorization, than it is to get $2.15 change from a 5?
I think it's pretty close, given that you can usually do the swiping and the PIN while the clerk is busy scanning your purchases. Even if I only buy 4 or 5 things at the store, I can usually be done with my part before the clerk finishes scanning them.

Re:..right with a paper-less office (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341568)

- plus, is it really faster to swipe, enter a PIN and wait for authorization, than it is to get $2.15 change from a 5?

well, it is way faster than checks and if you are one of those old people who need to find exact chainge, it is much, much, much faster ;-)

Re:..right with a paper-less office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341607)

Depends on who the cashier is. My bet is you've never shopped at my local Kmart where the cashiers either have 4 inch long fingernails (meaning grabbing correct change from the drawer is a 30 second operation instead of a 3 second one) or they have lose count between 12 and thirteen (you can watch their lips move) and have to start over from the beginning.

Re:..right with a paper-less office (1)

diverman (55324) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341618)

I think it's more convenient for me to have access to the right amount. It sucks when I want to buy a $6.50 lunch, and realize I only have $3 in my wallet.

As for the actual time it takes... I think the differences in that respect are neglegable. It largely depends on who is giving you the change. Some people have the routine down, and are really quick at getting change... others take forever.

The best advantage to me... tracking! I started using MS Money (Quicken is also great), and find it advantageous to be able to categorize my spending. With cash, there's always this clump of several hundred in a month that I don't know how I spent it. Tracking my spending makes it easier to know where I need to trim my budget. It's harder to do with Cash.

But I doubt we'll see a truly paperless economy for some time. For now, I just TRY to use my card as much as I can.


cash less? are you nuts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341479)

I couldn't imagine basing my life on cards and checks. I don't own a checking account. I don't own a savings account. I go to the bank that my employer draws their checks on and cash them. I pay for everything in cash. I keep everything I have in cash (I have $25,000 in cash at home right now in fact) and I pay my bills by Money Order and Cashier's Check.

In the event that I must purchase something online, I use a relatives debit card. Since I don't need to use a credit card that often, it doesn't make much sense to give the banks and everyone else more credit history to watch and track my life by -- and my relative doesn't mind since I keep their debit card balance above float for them.

As long as you aren't also using a SafeWay Club Card or something similar to allow your local grocer to track how many times you buy tampons each week and how many Mountain Dews you drink, then I think you're relatively safe... but still... no cash?

Re:cash less? are you nuts? (0)

ChiefCrazyTalk (173162) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341530)

$25,000 in cash at home you say? What is your address?

But seriously, what do you have against credit/debit cards or checks?

Re:cash less? are you nuts? (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341544)

You sir, are an idiot for so many reasons, I can't even begin to list them all.

cash ? are you nuts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341569)

I couldn't remember when I used cash the last time. I use cards almost exclusively and I've never written a check (they were taken out of the circulation in early 1990s due to the lack of public interest).

I have a credit card but I rarely use its credit function. It also has bank card function (I'm not sure if debit card means this; I'm not from the US) that I can use in shops, restaurants, movies and practically everywhere. The money gets transfered from my account in real time so I don't have to remember if I have money on my account or not. If my account is dry, the card doesn't work.

It's also safer to use. If I lose it or it gets stolen I can disable it at once by calling a 24/7 toll-free number. Furthermore, I can set a ceiling for daily/monthly withdrawals. Also if it is used to buy stuff in excess of $50 the dealer is required to ask for an official ID (=drivers license or a passport).

I do all my banking as well as manage my stock portfolio via the net. I don't miss cash.

I am living in a cash-less society! (5, Funny)

pOs*x (254850) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341480)

It's called "post-secondary education". They take all your money for tuition, and you live cash-less for many years. It's not as great as you make it out to be!

Not possible, lower class vices need cash (5, Insightful)

typical geek (261980) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341484)

When the lower class sorts (you know, Joe Sixpack and friends) amuse themselves, cash often plays a part. You can't stick a dollar bill in a stripper's thong with a debit card, you can't buy marijuana with a credit card, pool games take quarters, and most bars only take cash.

Remember, just becuase you live online and buy porn online doesn't mean Joe Sixpack does.

Re:Not possible, lower class vices need cash (2, Informative)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341527)

Do you seriously believe that only "working class" people go to strip clubs, smoke pot, play pool and drink at bars??? I've seen plenty of luxury cars parked outside of strip clubs and bars.

Re:Not possible, lower class vices need cash (1)

feed_me_cereal (452042) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341534)

Maybe strippers could get a little card swiper attatchment for thier thongs :)

Re:Not possible, lower class vices need cash (1)

dkaplowitz (248055) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341571)

I thought they already had one?

You just got to get her to agree to let you swipe it!

Re:Not possible, lower class vices need cash (3, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341592)

That exactly the kind of thing people generally don't want showing up on their monthly bills though.
$300 for a massage?!? I don't remember a massage...

Re:Not possible, lower class vices need cash (2)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341582)

Good point. I forgot about strip clubs...I guess I haven't been to one in longer than I thought :)

Hey, us 'higher' class folks need to unwind every now and then too.

Re:Not possible, lower class vices need cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341616)

Wow, could you be more elitist?

I only handle cash (2)

Junta (36770) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341490)

When I need to go to a movie theater or to a fast food restaurant, and in amusment parks and the like. On one hand it is very convenient, but on the other, if you have a check card or credit card, a lot more is at stake if it gets stolen. I like the ATM/Debit approach, you need a pin to make purchases. It's practially useless though, for most places that would just take Check Card or credit card, and of course there is no secure way to do this sort of thing on line. I have been wondering for a while how the problem of on-line shopping security could be handled. Throw away numbers used for one purchase only each comes to mind. Anyone have experience with this?

Re:I only handle cash (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341557)

Not true at all. If your credit card is stolen, you are liable for, at most, $50 (or some similar amount depending on your currency).

Risks of cash (1)

kingdon (220100) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341491)

Especially when I lived in Washington, DC, I would run into stores which didn't take cash. Apparently they just got held up too much. So currency is far from risk-free.

Still, I use cash a fair bit because it still seems resistent to many of the *other* risks (stolen credit card numbers and all that stuff).

Re:Risks of cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341508)

Think of the stigmas that are attached to paying for things with large amounts of cash. (cars, etc...). Do you think that a car dealership would feel safe about a transaction in which they accept $40,000 US in cash?

Privacy is the issue... (5, Insightful)

YuppieScum (1096) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341494)

The only time I use my debit/ATM card for actual purchases is when buying on-line.

For all other purposes I withdraw cash - from as many random ATM's as I can manage.

I'll continue to do so until I receive an absolute guarantee from my bank that my purchasing habits are completly private.

And, of course, there are some things that plastic just can't buy...

Re:Privacy is the issue... (0, Offtopic)

NineNine (235196) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341561)

Wow. You are paranoid beyond belief. See a doctor. Right now. You need help.

Re:Privacy is the issue... (1)

Alpha Prime (25709) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341593)

Yes, privacy is the issue. If you use plastic, they can track your every move. I don't do anything to cause them to want to, but I still use cash at every chance just to keep from being yet another statistic in the grand scheme of things.

Just for stats, I'm in the upper end of the food chain, so I really don't want DoubleClick to be able to match my spending habits at the home theatre store to my online purchases and try to send me some targeted advertising telling me that I need a new and better frobox. If I want it, I'll look for it. The fact that I may not know its there does not bother me in the least, but being told that I don't know annoys the hell out of me.

Re:Privacy is the issue... (2, Insightful)

Spamuel (246002) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341603)

Umm... unless you have a number of bank accounts with different banks your bank knows about all your transactions regardless of how many ATM's you go to. And no one can ever have all their purchasing habits kept private, it's how credit card companies establish your credit rating.

I use cash much of the time (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341495)

Not becouse I have to, rather becouse I want to.
Not everyone needs to know my spending habits.
Cash still spends very well for a number of things and I would hate for that not to be an option.

Cashless Society (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341497)

It not only requires faith in the system it demands it. No longer will you have the option on whether or not to have faith in the financial system. Under such a society you will no longer have access to your wealth in any tangible form stripping you of yet another form of personal empowerment. If the government or a company says you owe them money they will more than likely find a way to access your financies without your authorization, and be able to keep records of every financial transaction that occurs in society making 'undesireables' very easy to track.

How do I (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341499)

get my M&M's from the vending machines? Yeah, I've seen the commercial where the woman in some Italian town uses her cell phone (I think) to order a bottle of water from a machine while some old guy receives a dirty look from a nun while he tries to sneak a few coins from the fountain. But realistically how far away is that scenario?

Promisory Notes and Bank Scrip (3, Insightful)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341500)

We have to remember that money as we know it sort of evolved. It went from physical gold and other backing, to gold (and other backing) stored in banks with bank notes holding them, to paper whose only value is defined by the government issuing it, with no backing. Modern debit cards and checks are just bank notes that represent money that doesn't really represent anything other than the fact that it is money. We already are cashless, people just seem to want this state to be computerized... Well, realistically it is... I mean, a lot of the stuff we buy we never phyiscally move money around to pay for. Actual cash is just another representation of this, why get rid of it? If people stop carrying around cash on their own, I'm sure that less will actually be issued, but why make a big deal of this transition, when it will just occur naturally (if it occurs at all).

Cashless Society? (1)

JimPooley (150814) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341503)

Yeah, right. Tell that to the pockets I've worn out carrying loose change!
Not likely to happen. There's nothing worse than being stuck in a shop queue behind some idiot buying some item for a footling amount of money and paying for it with their credit/debit card. So you have to wait while they go through the whole rigmarole of swiping the card through the maching, waiting for the printout, signing it, etc...

Short of having chip implants or barcode tattoos ("And no man may buy or sell save that he have the mark of the beast..") it's just often far, far more convenient to have hard cash on your person.

We really don't need cash anyway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341506)

What with plastic and direct deposit, we've moved quite a ways away from cash already.

The need for cash only resides at the lower end of the financial spectrum. Homeless folks, cash & carry shoppers, and illegal immigrants are about the only ones who really need physical currency. The rest of us would do well to avoid all that.

It isn't like gold backs up the dollar anyway. The value of the dollar is tied to the ephemeral "American economy" whose status is always debatable. Whether it's paper money or metal money or a series of ones and zeroes in the bank's computer, it's all the same. Any one of those mediums can be wiped out easily, so it doesn't behoove anyone to hoard the physical stuff.

no less theft proof? (4, Insightful)

pussycat (206606) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341507)

> it's no less just takes a theif of a different calibur to pull it off

That's like saying steel is no less melt-proof than butter; it just takes a different temperature to pull it off.

Well, if you enjoy being tracked... (3, Insightful)

joshamania (32599) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341509)

...please, continue to use your credit cards and cheques.

I like cash because I don't care to receive any more spam in my snail-mail inbox than I already do. I particularly like cash for black market purchases...kinda difficult with credit cards. Also, if you like avoiding all the troubling paperwork of paying income taxes on that $20 that you got for mowing the neigbor's lawn, cash is good.

Can any of you imagine having to set up a paypal account when you are 13 years old just so you can get paid by the guy down the street for mowing his lawn?

Cash ain't goin nowhere...

"Money will always be paper...but gold will always be gold..." -- Hudson Hawk...Mayflower...

Re:Well, if you enjoy being tracked... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341598)

O believe me, if the goverment could they would tax every transaction in our lives. At least the dispicable democrats would.

Re:Well, if you enjoy being tracked... (3, Interesting)

NineNine (235196) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341608)

Yes, you're very anoymous now.

Jeremy Simmons
24647 Lincolnway St.
Plainfield, IL 60544
Phone: 815-263-3649

Postmodernism (5, Informative)

zpengo (99887) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341510)

This is something that some postmodernist thinkers saw coming a long time ago. It has to do with the continual separation from reality.

"Reality" in financial terms is a 1:1 trade of value. X number of pigs for Y pounds of grain, for example. Barter.

Barter became unwieldy, so there came to be used "valuable" pieces of metal that represented the value of physical objects.

Then valuable metal became scarce, so we came to use pieces of paper that represented metal stored in a fort somewhere.

After a while, the paper was valuable just for the idea, and there was no longer a need to back it with gold.

Then, because the pieces of paper were unwieldy, we came to create bank accounts where we could write one piece of paper (a check) to represent several of the formerly gold-backed pieces of paper.

Then people got tired of carrying around pieces of paper, so they replaced it with single pieces of plastic that could be used multiple times.

But pieces of plastic had to be used in person, so when people wanted to buy something from, all they needed to use was the number.

Our entire financial lives can be reduced to a meaningless string of numbers. That's a far cry from bringing your pigs or cheese or grains or whatever to the market.

Re:Postmodernism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341551)

Now you only need to wait for the day that the bank accounts will be filled many small, digitally signed datagrams that represent money, only cannot be traced, cannot be taxed.

Now do we realize why the gov't wants to ban strong crypto? It obseleces their income methods..

How effective would Dubya's attack on terrorist financial holdings if they were literally 100% anonymous electronic money?

You'll have to ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341511)

...the Board of Directors of VA Linux.

big brother =:-( (5, Insightful)

drenehtsral (29789) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341512)

The thing i worry about in a cashless society is that once you have the centralized system to deal with clearing the transaction, people are going to extract marketing data. The government is going to look at your purchasing habits and decide that some people have similar purchasing habits too far to one or the other side of the political spectrum, and are too much of a threat to middle class suburban normalcy and should be liquidated.
Also that means that if they _suspect_ you of selling/using drugs, they can freeze your finances completely. It gives _way_ too much control to somebody else, based on politics, purchasing habits, etc... It makes my skin crawl.


I don't think many (any?) major economic powers even _pretend_ to back their currency with anything real anymore, let alone gold.

Illegal activities take a hit (1)

ratguy (248395) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341516)

I don't know.. not having paper money would make a serious hit to all my favorite illegal activities. How many hookers do you know that carry around a credit card machine? (just swipe your card right here)

And what am I supposed to use to snort my coke?


Shortened Jack-In-The-Box Straws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341533)

For insufflated drugs, accept no substitutes.

debit cards (1)

huh_ (53063) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341517)

I think one thing that has to be done is speed up the debit card process. It takes so long to approve a transaction.

We already ARE cashless (1)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341518)

But we're backwards compatible. :)

Go to the bank and get 10 sackajwea dollar coins. Use them in your day to day operations. I'll guarantee it will raise an eyebrow or two.

By the same token, how many people are getting the 50-state quarters with the intent of never spending them? (I am.)

You're already seeing that cash is unnecessary in todays society, now you're seeing that society start to 'collect' money as an oddity.

Cash is inconvienent (2, Interesting)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341521)

The only thing that I use cash for is vending machines.

With any luck, future vending machines will take visa...

I like having a monthly summary of how much I've spent,
where I spent it, and when I spent it. It makes planning
easier and more realistic.

Re:Cash is inconvienent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341596)

Poor guy. The vending machines around here already take credit.

Of course if you lived in Finland you could pay the vending machine with your cell phone, but I'm not sure I'd want 6 bags of Fritos charged to my Verizon wireless account.

Where will I get my hard liquor? (1)

feed_me_cereal (452042) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341522)

I don't know if this happens other places or not, but it seems that in columbus, OH you have to pay cash at liquor agencies. The real question is: how will anyone score some herb if there's no cash? Will the dealers start taking paypal? :

It is possible for some things (1)

grylnsmn (460178) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341524)

For most of my major purchases, I prefer using credit cards, online payments, etc. I provides an extra level of security and tracability to my transactions.

However, I still like to carry a little cash around for emergencies. For example, I was in a store the other day when the phones went out. No one could make any payments by credit card or debit card. I, on the other hand, was able to buy my items using the high-tech $5 bill in my pocket.

Also, the more common electronic transactions are, the more security for them we will ahve to have, and the more infrastructure we need as well. If every soda machine were to take credit cards, every machine would need a separate phone line to contact the different credit card services. I personally thing that we don't have the infrastructure in place to handle this at this time.


I'll need cash for the forseeable future... (1)

wizarddc (105860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341525)

How the hell am I supposed to pay the chinese food delivery guy without cash? I don't think wireless networking is secure enough for Kwong Fat to start proccessing my Visa from his car.

McDonalds (2)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341526)

When McDonalds starts accepting credit/debit, I think we'll pretty much be there. I eat at McD's maybe twice a year, so it's no big deal to me anyway.

Fast food and race registrations (where I didn't pre-register) are the only places I ever use cash any more. Even my small-town pizza joint accepts credit now. Personally I don't even own a credit card. Just a checking account card with a mastercard logo on it.

Quarterless Laundry (1)

AmDrEx (119097) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341553)

I don't even have to use quarters for laundry anymore. I have a card that I put into the machine. If the card runs out, I hook it up to another one and refill it.

Re:McDonalds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341601)

You must live in some ghetto country right? Every McDonalds I've been into in the last year has taken credit/debit cards. That's Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. You eat at McD's but twice a year?!? What are you, french? Hang your head in shame.

Re:McDonalds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341624)

Here in Canada, I find that almost every fast food restaurant, movie theatre, liquor store, beer store, convenience store, you name it!

Almost every store I go to accepts Debit/Credit

Anonymity of cash (1)

drnomad (99183) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341529)

I will never give up cash for 100&. Giral money is tracable, while cash money is not. A government can classify anything to be subversive, so there goes your spending freedom. No, I do not trust gouvernments... I want my freedom, privacy and anonymity, I'll use cash!

Objective Standard of Value (1)

dkaplowitz (248055) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341535)

Yes, we are heading in the direction of a cashless society, which is nice and convenient---if you choose to have a trackable identity, and if you fit in and embrace all the rules and restrictions.

I remember when I was reading a lot of Ayn Rand where she spoke of gold as being an objective standard of value and that when we started moving to paper currency (and now e-currency) that we are losing something..... although what I am too burnt out to remember.

I guess it's just a little scary to think that our future monetary unit could be made of nothing but ether, and the value of which is determined by some accountant in the murky bowels of some bureacracy.

I don't think there's much we can do to stop it.

After all, isn't it nice to pay for gas with a credit/bank card, rather than having to go in, wait on line and talk to the guy behind the counter?

Gold does not underwirte currency (1)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341536)

It has been a very long time since gold underwrote a nations currency.

In the UK old paper money use to state that it could be explicitlly changed into gold. That was removed. Of course in the Us it's far more accurate 'in god we trust' :-)

As for just getting rid of paper money, it will happen as money becomes more and more worthless, it costs something to produce money and foil counterfitting. When the costs of producing money exceed it's value then things will change.

A far more wide ranging, and debateable, issue is that in an educated society why do the majority of people still bother with money at all? It's just pieces of paper!

Nope...I don't see a cashless society soon (1)

jmccay (70985) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341538)

I don't think it will happen anytime soon. Look at the fees banks charge now for different types of transaction. Some charge on a POS transaction basis. Withouthard cash, what to stop them from increases the fees and adding new fees? Nothing. I know of several business (restaurants) that only take cash. For a business owner, it is the best thing, you always know you'll have the momey from the customer because they give it to either before, during, or a very short period after they receive the good(s) or service(s).
Now everone has the abily to use checks, or even check cards. This doesn't include stuff like garage sales. The fees to do the transactions alone would make them worthless. Then you'd have to go back to bartering when you at a garage sale.
I don't see a cashless society a good idea right now. Too much corprate greed.

No cash, use strakh instead. (2)

glitch! (57276) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341539)

In a Jack Vance story, one world had no use for money. They traded goods based on a person's strakh, roughly similar to personality, prestige, karma, etc. The way to improving one's strakh was to excel in one's craft or trade, and by wisely choosing who received the product of one's labors.

Good trades, that is providing excellent products to "customers" of high strakh, would increase both parties' prestige.

Naturally, to an outsider, this gift economy had rules that were nearly incomprehensible. And breaking those rules, even accidentally, could lead to grave personal danger.

Anyway, the name of the story is "Moon Moth".

Posting as AC for a reason.... (1)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341540)

Cash is the paranoid AC's way of buying porn, weed, and JD Salinger books...

Re:Posting as AC for a reason.... (1)

Sir_Real (179104) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341573)

And apparently... I forgot to click on the Post Anonymously check box.... :)

The way I see it (1)

Nate Fox (1271) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341541)

We'll go to a National ID card [] . Then people will get sick of carrying three+ cards, so we'll consolidate to one card with your personal info and your financial info. After a while, it'll be found out that this makes identity theft WAY too easy, so we'll start implanting [] them into our skin. From there, I dunno. Retna scanning? My question to the /. crowd is this: how long will it take to implement all of this (well, up to the implanted-int-skin part)?

Gold has not backed the dollor since FDR. (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341547)

and I think it was Nixon who took us off the silver standard so now the only thing that gives our dollor any value is the economy, which is based on the peoples' confidence, so we basicly say that the money is worth somthing because it is.

A cash coincidence? (4, Interesting)

Laplace (143876) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341548)

Over the last six months I have made an effort to pay for as much as a can with cash. For groceries, gas, books, and gear, I whip out my wallet and throw down as many twenties as I need. Its has a few nice benefits.

1) I stay in my budget. I take out cash when I get paid, and know exactly how much I have to spend until my next pay check.

2) I get less junk mail. No more grocery store fliers, no more technical junk, jut good ol' mail. Coincidence? I think not.

3) People who provide services for me (yoga, karate, acupuncture, housing, servers, etc) get instant payment, and can do what they want with it, including not reporting taxes. This makes them happy.

I only use credit cards when I absolutely need to, and am much happier for it.

It is not feasible and not desirable (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341552)

Cash is the lowest-denominator currency : it's a legal tender that involves no outside institutions such as banks and credit card companies. Should those institutions stop functioning (like during a nuclear war for example), cash would be the only means of payment.

moreover, some people rely on cash to survive, like beggars and very poor people : these people would not be allowed to get a credit card or check books, mostly because they have no address.

Finally, there has to be a way to be able to pay for something anonymously. It is necessary in a free society.

Keep cash alive ! :-)

Deadline for the Future (1)

Monthenor (42511) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341558)

I'm going to handle cash right up until the laundromat's washing machines accept my credit card. Cash's only value is in being changed into quarters.

not too long now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341562)

I live in Ontario Canada, and everywhere i go, i can pay with interact, its very rare to find a store that doesnt have to option to pay by debit. Even some pizza joints have wireless debit machines, so when they deliver a pizza, you have the option to pay by debit. I expect to see the wireless debit machines poping up all over, especailly in taxis. Come to think of it, i dont really need to carry cash at all unless im going out to the bar.

Will it ever be here fully? (1)

aspillai (86002) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341572)

The future where the society is completely cash less is already here...kind of. I know lots of people who take out cash maybe once a month because certain places or things need cash. For example, you're thirsty and go to a coke machine. Unless you have a dollar on you, there's no way you can get the coke. But for almost everything else from pay phones (Bell Quick change cards) to paying bills to grocery shopping is done almost entirely cash free, by most people. There are of course some people who prefer to use cash.

Even the working poor use debit cards. With banks having deals where you pay a monthly charge for unlimited debit usage it makes sense. Especially people who keep strong financial records, it's much easier to get an account history at the end of the month instead of having to manually keep track of things. This is especially helpful to people on social assistance or disability where the government wants to know how the money is being used. Having a bank record is easier to manage and more believable than written accounts with recipts.

Finally the best part is, if someone steals money from your debit account, the bank will give it back to you. If someone steals your wallet, there's nothing you can do to get it back!

less-cash (1)

simpl3x (238301) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341574)

i really don't carry much cash. it's a running joke amongst friends. but, i don't have a visa but i use amex regularly. what is particularly anoying is all of the cards. i want one card--or ring as the case may be--to bind all of my cards together. they are accounts, not cards. when this begins to happen the cash-less society will begin. it is all symbolic and arbitrary anyway... as if we can pretend to live in a society and not be identified! get over it.

Cash is the only way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341575)

Credit/Debit make it too easy to spend money you don't have, or shouldn't be spending. Checks are an annoyance to me, and everyone in line behind me.

As was already pointed out, it doesn't reduce theft, as we all know about identity theft, which generally includes some sort of credit scams. It doesn't even reduce physical theft. As a society becomes more dependant on everyone having credit acards, they will be even less likely to check signatures, making felonious purchases with stolen credit cards easily.

I use cash for everything except monthly bills, which I pay by check. I admit I have one credit card, for the small amount of mail order shopping I do, but for daily living, I want and need cash.

I don't want anyone to be able to track me through my weekend, to find out what bars I frequent, restaraunts I patronize, or groceries I buy.

Checks are terribly inconvenient, credit/debit are too convenient, and both are totally invasive of my privacy. Cash it is for me.

door-to door (1)

GNUCyberKat (62503) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341577)

I can see it kid comes to sell chocolates for school and is lugging a debit card device...oh yeah, he also takes credit cards now.

Better buy that 3 mile extension cord I've always been meaning to get.

Gold backs cash?? (1)

agilen (410830) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341578), which theoretically backs the majority of world currencies,

Gold does not back up currency. This is a myth left over from days long ago when gold was currency.

The value of currency comes from the purchasing power of the nation that issued said currency. If currency were indeed backed by gold, why would some countries have higher inflation rates than others? Trust me, there definately is not enough gold in existence to cover the amount of money that exists in the world financial market. Currency is only a small part of that market to facilitate very small consumer transactions.

Proton card (1)

Barche (233137) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341581)

Here in Belgium, we have a system called "Proton". It is used for really small transactions, say anything less than 10 euro or so. It is a card with a chip on it, and you can charge it to a maximum of about 120 euro at an ATM machine. When you pay with it afterwards, you no longer require to enter a PIN code. This system is handy for small transactions, because this way you don't need to fiddle with change, and you don't have to wait for the bank to authorise a debit card after you enter your PIN.

The gold standard.... (1)

shri (17709) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341583)

I had to point people to this brilliant editorial on the gold standard...
To-day's Message concerns the importance of maintaining the gold standard, which has long been the bed-rock of monetary policy in our Great Republic. The printing of more green-backs would only prompt inflation and severely under-mine the Republic's over-all prosperity...

More here [] . Yep, has as much relevance to this topic as this one has to a non-US reader like me.

Speel chekker NEone? (2, Funny)

ZaMoose (24734) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341587)


1.Abbr. cal.
a.The diameter of the inside of a round cylinder, such as a tube.
b.The diameter of the bore of a firearm, usually shown in hundredths or thousandths of an inch and expressed in writing or print in terms of a decimal
fraction:.45 caliber.
c.The diameter of a large projectile, such as an artillery shell, measured in millimeters or in inches.
2.Degree of worth; quality: a school of high caliber; an executive of low caliber.


Cashless Society (1)

jdevons (233314) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341588)

To live in a cashless society, we need to completely stop using cash.

In that vain, I ask that you all please send me all of your cash and I will make certain that you are never bothered by it again...

transaction charge (4, Interesting)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341589)

Considering that most cashless transactions impose some sort of transaction charge, I patently refuse to accept a cash-only society until these sorts of electronic money services are free. Otherwise, you'd be paying some sort of X% tax on every 'cashless' transaction you make. I prefer cash, if only for this reason alone. (Nevermind that the tangible quality of real cash is an important part of appreciating your hard earned money.)

Get the government out of the printing business. (3, Insightful)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341590)

Note that it is expensive for the government to maintain the supply of bills. A huge quantity of bills must be printed and taken out of circulation on a weekly basis to maintain a managed supply of relatively clean and tear-free cash notes.

While it is worthwhile for the government to regulate the amount of money available through monetary instruments and fiscal policy, it seems pointless in our day and age for the government to continue to track the quality of trillions of pieces of paper.

Note that this is not simply a domestic issue - numerous other nations use the greenback for their currency, so this creates a huge bloated government apparatus that is completely unnecessary.

Say good bye to privacy (1)

slam smith (61863) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341591)

With a cashless society you would be leaving an electronic trail where ever you go. You couldn't buy an Ice Cream cone without the gov't or the marketing dept of mega corporations knowing about it. I think I would like the option of keeping my life a little more private. At this point you might as well start carrying a tracking device with you.


Perfectly feasible (2)

BillyGoatThree (324006) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341594)

But utterly unlikely.

People here have pointed out the lack of the touted paperless office. I'd like to add this thought to that: People have been trying since the 70's (at least) to get rid the penny. Check your pockets for the success factor there.

People stop using things when they become useless. No amount of marketing by "eMoney" companies or wishful thinking by self-professed "geeks" will make it go away.

gold standard? (1)

mydigitalself (472203) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341595)

um no...
the gold standard broke down after the first world war.

Come up to Canada.... (1)

Linegod (9952) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341599)

...where everywhere you go you can use a debit card. Bars, Fast-food joints, computer shops, video stores, pawn shops, sidewalk fairs, casinos, car dealerships, you name it, they take Interac. The one or two exceptions to this are shocks, and are slowly disappearing. The only time I've had to use cash was at Robins Donuts last week, since they're to cheap to put in a machine. Oh, and to score some smack.

MS Money & Quicken (2)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341602)

With MS Money and Quicken, the use of checks is even invalid. I never write a check for my bills. You can setup Money & Quicken to pay all your normal bills automatically (whether that means pay online, or sending out a check). Its automatic, and I don't need to worry about the checks, just have to make sure the money is available, and as long as I put in all my deposits on time, the software can warn me the money isn't available and it won't send out the check. Paying bills has never been easier.

Cash allows anonymity, travel (1)

castellan (123741) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341605)

Resist a cashless society!
Using Credit or Debit is good, when you're tracking your expenses for budget purposes. It's handy receiving a monthly statement detailing your purchases.

Every now and again you might want to buy something without The Bank, The Credit Company, Your Boss, whomever, finding out. So you use cash for its anonymity.

Every now and again you might find yourself in a foreign country, where using credit or debit is either impossible (electricity? access to the 'net?) or expensive. Cash is required, and it's good to know how to recognize correct change. So you use cash for it's expediency.

The brain-exercise of calculating change quickly and correctly may even keep aging brains active, alert and alive.

A different type of criminal... (2)

markmoss (301064) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341614)

At present (and a century ago, as well): not-too-bright criminals rob banks. Moronic criminals mug you when you walk out of the bank. Smart criminals go to work for the bank -- and the geniuses stay honest until they reach a high enough level to steal legally.

A cashless society will certainly slow down the first two types; they can still steal _goods_, but they have to lug them around, find a fence to buy them, not get caught by the police with them, and in general it's more work for less money, not to mention complicated enough to challenge their mentality. However, this provides increased opportunities for the smart criminals. And mainly, I would be concerned about the opportunities this gives to both corporations and governments for dishonest dealings.

Forty years ago, in any sort of sales business the motto was "the customer is always right". Nowadays, most corporate customer service depts run on the motto "the customer is always wrong". Do you really want to let them hold your money as bits in their computers, with no hard-copy proof of your account?

And then there are all the privacy aspects -- corporations tracking everything you purchase, g-men able to track your movements every time you stick a card in a machine, etc. I'll use cash, thank you. And if I become worried about muggers, CCW permits aren't that hard to get in Michigan... (A dead mugger is a non-recidivist.)

Cash gives us some measure of control... (1)

curunir (98273) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341615)

I have a friend who has horrible credit. He got this horrible credit bacause of a $40 charge that he disputes. The company that feels he owes them money, marked it on his credit report. So now, he cashes his paycheck twice a month and puts the cash in a safe he bought (for more than $40). He has chosen to give up the conveniences of the modern non-cash system for his principles (he's right about the $40 charge...but I won't go into that here). Without cash, he would be forced to concede his argument.

The more important point here is that cash always gives you an alternative way to live your life. With the relative ease that a company can destroy your credit rating, imagine the abuses that would occur if you *had to comply* everytime someone said you owed them something.

Why not ..... (1)

Gallo Nero (466182) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341619)

.... they seem to get along just fine without it on Star Trek!

Shoot some worms! []

Credit-based society (1)

JM (18663) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341620)

I feel that the current trend towards computer-based money is not about assets anymore, but about credit, and that kinda scares me.

And I'm not talking about credit cards here. I'm referring to what most people think is cash equivalent: checks and debit cards...

Try to cash a check anywhere. They will ask for ID, and either take a commission or hold the check until clearance. If you want the exact amount that's written on the check and want it now, you need a pre-approved line of credit.

Same thing for debit cards. Last month, I had to buy some computer equipment. I had more than enough money in my bank account. Unfortunately, my debit card could only be used for up to $1000 a day, and if I bought by credit card, I would have to pay a 3% surcharge. Of course, the store wouldn't accept checks without credit approval. So I had to go to the bank, and pay $20 extra for a certified check.

Of course, I could have withdrawn the cash and carry it with me, but I don't feel comfortable with several thousand dollars in twenties in my pockets.

In conclusion: either carry a cash and a gun, or watch your credit.

untill drug dealers take interac.. (-1)

n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341621)

it depends what your buying. some things can only be baught with cash. drugs, stolen items and under thr counter purchases can only be made with cash. not to mention if they mind having all their financial transactions logged and a fee paid to the bank for everyone one...
wait i think i like cash. credit is just ease of use because you cant carry cash everywhere. if they devolped some smart card tech, i guarantee people woudl still deal in cash just to avoid being traced. i think the general populus likes the fact that they can buy porn annonymously.

I used to spend significantly more with cash (3, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 12 years ago | (#2341622)

Nowadays, I never carry cash around. Before, I always used cash and ended up spending a lot more money, just because I happened to have it on me. With Debit/Credit, you pay exactly what the goods cost. With cash, you need to take out more than is necessary to cover the cost, and lets not forget the tons of change that (for me at least) ends up just gathering dust all over my apartment and in my car.

Moneyless society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2341626)

What about a moneyless society?

If future technologies like nanotechnology provide for all the basic needs of humans, would money be needed?

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