Cashless Society: The Hidden Dangers Ahead!
Sometime ago, I was at this same station pointing out the gains of cashless society and why we need it in our world today. One fact I consciously never brought to light then was the fact that cashless society is not all about the positives. In fact, there is some very dark and great hidden dangers associated with cashless society which could even outweigh the pros of cashless society.
I now proceed to point out those hidden dangers.
Control. First and foremost, cashless society is all about control. Imagine this odd situation where something unexpected or unhealthy such as a computer virus attack happens and your bank’s database gets deleted or tampered with. Instantly you can go from the richest guy around to the poorest church mouse around. Now let’s take it further by assuming this computer viral attack was actually orchestrated knowingly by someone whose plan is to financially control you? You see the danger there now?
Electronic payment systems all involve the computer. Now, imagine a situation, where someone else such as a very good but dubious computer programmer a.k.a hacker/s who knows his onions very well gets hold of all your passwords? Can you see the problem as well as the power he has over you now? Under the cashless society monetary system, the access to your money contrary to what you may be led to believe, is never under your control rather it is absolutely in the hands of the person/s at the database who are at will to determine what amount you can withdraw or transfer as well as the transaction charges and also when you can effectively carry out such transactions.
Also there is limit to the amount of money you can carry out your transactions with as well as the amount of goods/services you can actually purchase.
A very good example of this is the recent news that as from June 2012, the Central Bank of Nigeria has issued the order that the highest amount of money that can be withdrawn from the banks operating in Nigeria by a single individual at a time will be fixed at one hundred and fifty thousand Naira! Any withdrawal above that stipulated amount will attract an automatic fine! Talk of controlling the amount of money an individual can access at any given point in time under a cashless society!
As if that is not terrible enough, there could also be cases of payment rejection. Because your money is reduced to figures seen on your computer screens when you log into your e-currency account, it shows that such figures can also be easily mathematically manipulated.
Cashless society can also easily make banks become so powerful by giving the banks the right to charge often spurious high rates. There is also associated surcharge on goods and services bought with electronic cards. Cashless society can seriously hamper you choice in business because unlike the normal cash based system of payment where you are at liberty to pay out some amount of money to anyone, you are limited or rather forced to use only a particular electronic payment system. Talk of absolute control!
Human errors. The erratic nature of human beings can never be overlooked when it comes to electronic system of payments. We may hand over some level of control to the machines but we can never neglect the fact that human input must still be there somewhere along the line for everything to work perfectly. There could be issues of password and PINs being forgotten, credit/debit and ATM cards can be misplaced or even stolen. Cards can also expire or damage and replacement will not be instant or easy thus making it impossible for instant payment of goods/services. Computers which are programmed by humans might malfunction and produce outrageous, ambiguous and inexplicable results. You might suddenly find out that you have more money than you can account for in your account, but then, you could also sadly find out that you owe more than you even fathom - all of a sudden!
Loss of privacy and Identity Theft. Cashless society introduces a very terrible dimension to the issues of loss of privacy. Everything from the least to the largest monetary transactions can be easily monitored. Even though cashless society can effectively curtail money laundering to a very large extent, but then not every one is money-laundering minded. The magnetic chips on the cards are also marked for target and subsequent privacy loss attack.
Under cashless society, the person with the password is always the assumed owner of the e-currency account. So there is actually no way to stop intruders completely thus making it very possible for almost everyone, most especially the dubious-minded, to assume any identity they want and that does not portend so well for our present world today where corruption and criminal activities are now on the rise. This could be the reason why credit card theft is on the rise. Under cashless society, they could also be a creation of something like an electronic underground society/syndicate that will specialize on identity theft.
Psychological Effects. Even though most people will not hesitate to tell you they like change or remind you that change is the only constant thing in the world, in reality people find it hard to change or adapt to changes. We have a remarkable and characteristic love or fancy for the old ways of doing things. The psychological effect of adapting to new changes on many people would only be better imagined than experienced. So for us to make that swift change from cash-based payment system to going cashless will seriously involve some deep internal wrangling in most people. The task of remembering important details like passwords and PINs could be very daunting on many thus causing them to reject or overlook even the seeming advantages inherent in migrating to a cashless society globally.
And then the Religious Implications…
There are some people who believe that the introduction of a complete cashless society will herald the arrival of the much dreaded Anti-Christ. They refer to the bible passage in Revelation where it is stated that those who will become the followers of this Anti-Christ will be given some marks either on their forehead or on their wrists while those who refuse to be marked will be shown no mercy and their chances of survival in such times will appear more and more bleak. The big question now is whether the magnetic microchip to be used under the cashless society monetary system of payment without which someone cannot buy or sell become the so called Mark of the Beast?