When you hold cash in your hands or store it safely at home, you have physical custody of it.
You can spend it, give it away to charity…heck, you can even burn it. All without leaving a trail.
But when that cash becomes a digitally stored value, every purchase becomes part of a data stream that ultimately draws a detailed picture of who you are.
In this new cashless society, financial and governmental institutions — not you — have custody of your cash.
Every purchase you make, and where and when you make them, draws a profile over time of your preferences, habits, needs and interests.
In a cashless society, you are your data — from how you spend your leisure time to an endless spate of personal habits.
And for those few remaining who steadfastly refuse to ever give up cash, forget about it: A global cashless society is fast becoming a reality.
In fact, my colleague Greg Guenthner wrote about it recently. Mobile payment apps like Paypal and Venmo are seeing transaction activity in the billions of dollars. ‘Folks are using the app for everything from buying a cup of coffee to paying rent.’ Greg wrote. ‘Venmo me’ is becoming a common turn of phrase among millennials.
The evidence against cash couldn’t be clearer…
Recently, under the guise of protecting against terrorism and drug cartels, the European Central Bank announced it would no longer produce the €500 note. Spinning the same tale, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is promoting eliminating the $100 bill from US currency. And former International Monetary Fund economist Kenneth Rogoff argues big bills should be eliminated from US currency.
There’s more: The massive millennial generation across the globe shows minimal resistance against the imminent demise of cash. Indeed, digital dollars already are the way of the world.
There are no ‘Occupy Cash’ movements anywhere. The consequences of a cashless society are out of the minds of millennials.
They’re incomprehensible to the younger Generation Z. They’re seemingly of no concern to the older, general public.
This movement, which empowers corporate giants and accelerates government control over your money and privacy, continues unabated.
The convenience millennials naturally cherish — and more boomers and seniors are forced to accept — is accelerating the transition to a cashless society.
There’s no defence against how institutions and government may use your data.
In a cashless society, Big Brother will watch even more how you spend your money, conduct your daily life and engage the world around you. Your privacy is lost. Your spending is a matter of record.
Without hard cash, every digital purchase logged is subject to taxes, fees and penalties. Owe back taxes? Overdrawn on your account? Had a lien filed against you? Forgot a mortgage payment? In a cashless society, government or big banks can more easily take your money without resistance or due process.
And in doing so, those entities will have an entirely new cache of information about you.
But on it goes, despite those obvious and formidable risks.
There is no substantial anti-digital currency movement. Today, European countries lead the cashless revolution. Belgium, France and much of Scandinavia report more than 85% percent non-cash payments. Sweden has gone nearly cashless. And Rwanda, Turkey and Australia aren’t far behind.
While entire population masses are making the digital conversion with relative ease, that’s not the case for poor people in the US and small businesses. They rely more heavily on cash because they don’t have credit cards and maybe not even bank accounts. They’ll find the transition harder, but unavoidable.
Bet your bottom dollar — or your digital dollar — on this: The transition to a cashless society in the US and across the Western world — as well as much of the world — is cemented. And love it or hate it, investing in the cashless society trend is going to make a lot of people very wealthy.
For Markets and Money, Australia
Publisher’s Note: Gerald Celente is founder and director of The Trends Research Institute, author of Trends 2000 and Trend Tracking (Warner Books), and publisher of The Trends Journal. He has been forecasting trends since 1980, and recently called ‘The Collapse of ’09.’