African Americans: Should The Future Be Cashless?



( A cashless economy is a dream of many politicians and economists around the world. With the rise of online payment processing solutions, more people are advocating for a cashless future. Technically, there are many advantages of a cashless society, but after looking at the bigger picture in which we imagine our future without zero cash in hand, things don’t look so great.

We do online banking like many other people around the world. We swipe our credit cards and debit cards, get digital receipts for all the transactions, and it all looks so safe. No matter if it’s about paying house rent, electricity or telephone bills, when it comes to online transactions, everything is secure and we can track how the money is being spent without having to take notes. But when it comes to making cash payments, I really feel that it works as a visual reminder to me.

When money goes from my hand and not virtually through my credit card, I get a clear picture in my mind of how I am going to spend my next few dollars. It’s not that cash payments make me scared, but they do allow me to visualize a clear financial picture of my future. That feeling I don’t usually get when I make virtual transactions. Money that appears in my bank account and account statements looks like nothing more than a number to me.


It may sound like a personal experience and opinion, but don’t you think that in the morning, when you put cash in your wallet and when you make the last cash payment of the day, you get a strong feeling about how your money should be managed. I believe it happens with almost everyone regardless of their spending habits. When I make a virtual transaction, I really don’t feel that ‘pressure’. When I am under that ‘pressure’, I feel positive about it. It works like a motivation to me or maybe the right word for that ‘pressure’ is motivation. A force that makes you realize many things about your money management skills.

Other than the motivation part, the second thing that makes me feel uncomfortable about the cashless future is privacy. Money is a personal matter and I really do not want to discuss my financial condition with a stranger who is sitting in a bank’s office somewhere in the country. I don’t want to show them how much money I have.

Zero cash clearly means that my financial life is more like an open book which can be read by anyone and at any time anywhere. And at any time, those bankers can stop me from using my own money. I can’t stop them from doing so because I have signed their agreement papers when I opened my bank account. Why it’s necessary to give someone this much power that at any time if they want or if their technology fails, they can make me sit with empty pockets?

Like me, many of you are maintaining bank accounts and you are well aware of the charges they are putting for several things such as maintenance, security, service, and transaction fee. Currently, we all can use our money outside of their system. No authority is seeing or asking why I am buying two Iced Caffè Latte from Starbucks or why I am using cash to buy gold. Most importantly, my cash gives me anonymity. People who are not familiar with online transactions are at least not being fooled by cybercriminals because they can use cash if they don’t know how to use an ATM or swipe a card at Walmart.

Why do we want to hand over our money to someone we don’t know? Are they giving us a risk-free, secure environment? No, they are not. Their systems are exposed to vulnerabilities every day and these virtual systems will always be the same because tightening security of a bank’s server is a never-ending process. It’s a cat-and-mouse game. We all keep at least some cash in hand due to the same reason. It reminds me of an incident shared by a chef who was working at the restaurant where Barack Obama’s credit card transaction was declined by a bank.

I know my stack of cash at home is also not completely secure, but at least I know that I will take sole responsibility for the events if anything bad happens. I don’t and can’t expect the same from a financial institution. Their apology letters won’t bring my money back or pay my bills.

Access to the internet is not a fundamental right but inclusion in the financial system is. And if it is not in some countries, then it should be. Poor and homeless people won’t be able to maintain a bank account and even if the government opens a free bank account for all, the burden on the entire banking system will certainly lead banks to charge more or they might ask poor people to maintain a minimum balance in their account.

Let’s imagine a cashless future for a minute. I am asking a teenager to take care of my dog until I come back. For his service, I will only be able to pay him $10-20 through my debit or credit card or maybe he will ask me to make a wire transfer. If I pay him using any of my cards, that poor guy will have to fill up a long form and declare that he was with my dog and for that reason, he is getting paid. For pocket money, my kids will have to fill up forms.

There are people who never use cash anymore or they rarely do it like once or twice in a year. How many of us fall into that bracket? A cashless society would be efficient and there will be no place for anonymous transactions, but if we do not have the right system in place and if people don’t have enough trust in the authorities, it’s not going to work as many are dreaming. Now you decide, should the future be cashless?

Staff Writer; Corey Shaw

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