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ChatChat - Claudia Cragg

Apr 30, 2020

A growing number of businesses and individuals worldwide have stopped using banknotes in fear that physical currency, handled by tens of thousands of people over its lifetime, could be a vector for the coronavirus.

Public officials and health experts have said the risk of transferring the virus person-to-person through the use of banknotes is low, but they don't rule it out.

While it is of course eminently sensible to avoid every possible source of Covid 19 contamination, the consequences of a cashless society inevitably hit hard the credit-poor, those who can least afford it.

'And the cashless society', says Brett Scott, is a euphemism for the "ask-your-banks-for-permission-to-pay society".

Rather than an exchange occurring directly between the hotel and me, it takes the form of a "have your people talk to my people" affair. Various intermediaries message one another to arrange an exchange between our respective banks.

That may be a convenient option, but in a cashless society it would no longer be an option at all. You'd have no choice but to conform to the intermediaries' automated bureaucracy, giving them a lot of power, and a lot of data about the micro-texture of your economic life.