Payment methods: less cash and more control
Cash payments, less susceptible to being controlled by the government than digital payments, are being completely replaced by card payments, transfers or other electronic means. Should we be concerned? What options are there on the market? We talk about it with Iu Alemany, Head of Customer Service at 11Onze, in a new episode of La Plaça, Territori 17’s radio show.
Advances in technology, the rise of online shopping and the digitisation of finance have led to the popularity of electronic means of payment. Many countries have already started a transition process with the aim of phasing out cash payments to the point of their possible total disappearance in the not-too-distant future.
On the one hand, the new generations of digital natives are more used to paying via mobile phone or smartwatch than with cash. On the other hand, governments see a good opportunity to fight the black economy and tax fraud by restricting cash payments that are more difficult to trace.
Thus, more and more limits are being imposed on cash payments, such as the European Union limiting cash purchases to 10,000 euros, or the Spanish state going much further by banning cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros in cases where one of the parties is acting in a professional capacity.
An economy subordinated to the banking system
The elimination of cash payments facilitates the bankarization of the economy, i.e. the State’s control over the transactions carried out by individuals and companies through the information provided by the financial system. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have positioned themselves as an alternative to this centralisation of finances, but states have also increased scrutiny and limited the use of such transactions.
In this context, several countries around the world have begun to explore the possibility of issuing central bank-issued digital currencies (CBDCs) – the European Central Bank has for some years now been working on the creation of the digital euro – which would give them unprecedented control over citizens’ money.
Increasing citizens’ dependence on the banking system will reduce the shadow economy, but it may also put our freedoms at risk and affect those most at risk of social exclusion. As Iu Alemany points out, “behind all this, there is a desire to have more control over the economy and the population and, if necessary, at any given moment to open or close the tap”.
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