The War on Cash: A Country by Country Guide

by | Jan 27, 2016 | Articles | 72 comments

 waroncashby James Corbett
January 27, 2016

Corbett Reporteers will be no stranger to the war on cash. I’ve made videos discussing it, conducted interviews about it, written articles examining it and dissected it on the radio.

The war has been waged through mainstream propaganda outlets, TV advertisements and even children’s games.

We’ve heard cash is dirtied by drug dealing, tarnished by terrorism, tainted by tax evasion (heaven forbid!) and just plain dirty. Not to mention sooooo outdated.

Just this week Norway has jumped aboard the cashless society agenda with DNB, the country’s largest bank, calling for a total end to cash. The story only sounds shocking only to people who haven’t heard the similar stories from Sweden or Denmark or India or Israel or any of the dozens of other countries whose banksters and (bankster-controlled) governments have openly lusted after a world of completely trackable, completely bank-controlled transactions.

But all of these stories, reported piecemeal here and there over the years, don’t give the full story about how this “war on cash” is being waged on every continent and in every country by the same banksters that stand to benefit from a cashless world. Let’s fix that by compiling a list of examples from around the world of how cash payments are being regulated, restricted and phased out. The list below will be updated as new stories come in.

If you have a link to relevant news from your own country or know of such news from another country, please let us know. Corbett Report members are invited to contribute to the list by logging in and leaving links to the relevant info in the comments below.

The Cashless Society List

ARGENTINA – Argentina’s currency crisis has been known for some time. In short, Argentinians don’t trust the peso and are willing to pay premium for any currency they perceive as “more stable,” especially US dollars which are traded on the black market as “blue dollars” at prices far exceeding the official exchange rate. That’s why Argentina has been tipped for some time as a country that is likely to go cashless sooner than later, with a 2014 report from the Bitcoin Market Opportunity Index ranking Argentina as the most likely jurisdiction to replace sovereign currency with bitcoin. Argentinians have reason to be wary about this New Monetary Order, however; in a move described as “an eerie glimpse of what a cashless society enables” the Argentinian government mandated that banks report every credit card purchase made in the country directly to the tax authorities and added a 15 percent tax surcharge every time a purchase is made outside the country using a credit card issued by an Argentine bank.

AUSTRALIA – Late last year the Westpac banking group issued a “Cash Free Report” touting the highly self-serving finding that “Over half (53 per cent) of payments currently made in Australia are cashless” (using Westpac online banking services like their cardless ATMs, no doubt). The report goes on to predict that Australia will be cash free by 2022. Meanwhile, the government is readying a cashless welfare system that will allow the government to control what the money is spent on. What could possibly go wrong?

BELGIUM – In 2014 the Belgian government passed new restrictions on cash payments: cash can no longer be used to pay for real estate, and there is a 3000 euro limit on cash payments for other assets (unless purchase second hand).

CANADA – In 2007 the Canadian government stopped allowing payment of taxes in cash at government service centers. In 2010 Passport Canada followed suit. In 2011 56% of Canadians polled said they were happy to live in a bankster-controlled cashless society so the country killed the penny in 2012 and the Royal Canadian Mint started pimping the “MintChip” as a new form of electronic payment that will be “better than cash.” The Mint ended the program in 2014 but the Great White North is still on track to be a cashless society in the coming years.

CHINA – The People’s Bank of China, citing the need to “reduce costs, curb crimes and money laundry, facilitate transactions and boost central bank’s control on money supply and circulation” set up a research team in 2014 “to study application scenarios for digital currency and strive for an early rollout.”

DENMARK – In the 1990s about 80% of Danish retail purchases were made with cash, but these days it’s more like 25%. But if the Danish government has its way, that number will be 0% by 2030. That’s the year the Danish government has set for the complete elimination of paper money in Denmark.

ECUADOR – Last year Ecuador became the first government to launch a digital currency completely administered and controlled by a central bank. Called the Dinero Electronico, the currency can be purchased with cash, stored in electronic wallets on a phone, and can be exchanged by text message.

EU – The head of the EU Anti-Fraud Office Giovanni Kessler, came out earlier this year to call for abolishing the 500 euro note because they “can make the life of fraudsters much easier.” He also noted that a more widespread adoption of electronic payment systems would be better for his office because “Traceability is paramount in fighting corruption and fraud.”

FRANCE – In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks last year, the French government stepped up its war on cash. In March of last year, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin declared it necessary to “fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy” in order to combat “low-cost terrorism.” As of September 2015 it is illegal for French citizens to make purchases exceeding 1000 euros in cash.

GERMANY – In a rather abrupt turnaround from a 2014 Bundesbank paper on “The Irreplaceability of Cash,” the German Finance Ministry (perhaps egged on by the country’s leading Keynesian economist) is looking into a 5000 euro cap on all cash payments. And although Germany is still a cash-based society, things are changing; a 2014 survey found that 34% of the population makes purchases electronically already and 20% can envision making all their purchases via smartphone payment systems in the future.

HONG KONG – When it launched in 1997, the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway’s Octopus Card was just the second contactless smart card system in the world (after South Korea’s UPass). Although originally used to pay for journeys on public transit, it can now be used at convenience stores, vending machines, supermarkets, photo booths and other retail outlets. In 2004 all metered parking spaces in Hong Kong were converted to cashless meters that required Octopus Cards for payment.

INDIA – India is one of the most cash-dependent economies in the world with a cash-to-GDP ratio of 12%, almost four times that of fellow BRICS nations Brazil and South Africa.  But it won’t be for long if the Indian government has its way. Last June the Indian Ministry of Finance posted a draft proposal to its website for facilitating the rise of cashless payments in the country. In his 2015 budget speech the Finance Minister declared: “One way to curb the flow of black money is to discourage transactions in cash. Now that a majority of Indians has or can have, a RUPAY debit card. I therefore, proposes to introduce soon several measure that will incentivize credit or debit card transactions and disincentivize cash transaction.”

IRELAND – A 2013 paper from the Central Bank of Ireland lamented Ireland’s slow adoption of electronic payments and over-reliance on cheques, noting “Ireland could save up to €1bn per year by migrating to more efficient [i.e. electronic] payment instruments.” Later that year, the Central Bank launched a National Payments plan to help facilitate the transition and kicked off a €1m national marketing campaign to encourage the migration to electronic payments. The scale of the campaign surprised many, with the Irish Independent pointing out that “It’s a major advertising spend in the current climate, where a big-promotion budget spend is considered to be in the region of €500,000 outside of the big global blue-chips.” Late last year the Cork City Centre Forum attempted to take the lead in the cashless transition by launching the “Cork Cash Out” campaign aiming “to encourage consumers to ween off cash and opt-in for electronic-only transactions instead.”

ISRAEL – In 2014 a special committee headed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff Harel Locker released a report examining how to reduce the use of cash in the country. The report advocates reforms (including restrictions and limits on cash transactions) as part of a strategy whose aim is “reduced use of cash, reduced use of endorsed checks, and increased use of electronic means of payment.”

ITALY – In 2011 newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti made cash payments over 1000 euro illegal. “What we need is a revolution in Italians’ thinking” Monti told reporters as he announced the emergency decree which was put into law before it was even formally voted on in parliament.

KENYA – Last year the Kenyan government awarded a contract to MasterCard to administer a smart card that can be used to pay for government services and receive welfare payments. Anne Waiguru of the Ministry of Devolution and Planning explained: “Uwezo Fund beneficiaries, Youth and Women Funds disbursements, National Youth Service, Social welfare government cash transfers to families, government food subsidies, hunger safety net cash transfers and cash transfers to orphaned children will be disbursed through the cards,” neglecting to add that the card also gives MasterCard access to the biometric details of 170 million potential customers.

MEXICO – In 2013 the Mexican government banned cash payments of more than 500,000 pesos for real estate and more than 200,000 pesos for cars, jewelry or lottery tickets.

NETHERLANDS – In 2013 the mayors of Almere, Rotterdam and Maastricht engaged in a publicity stunt to promote a campaign encouraging the public to abandon cash. They spent a week without spending any cash, relying solely on debit cards for purchases. The campaign is part of a long term trend away from cash and toward debit payments in many supermakets and other businesses around the country.

NORWAY – Late last week Trond Bentestuen, a senior executive at Norway’s largest bank, complained to the VG Newspaper that the Norwegian central bank “can only account for 40 percent” of the Norwegian kroner in circulation, meaning “that 60 percent of money usage is outside of any control.” There’s only one conclusion, according to Bentestuen: “There are so many dangers and disadvantages associated with cash, we have concluded that it should be phased out.” Don’t worry, though, the nation’s Finance Ministry says it has “no plans to change the law in this area”…for now.

PHILIPPINES – In the Phillippines, the government has launched an “E-Peso” project with the explicit aim of “transforming communities into cashless societies.” Touted as “a digital/virtual currency based on the Philippine Peso” its main selling point (according to the E-Peso’s own website) is that: “Since E-Peso transactions are completely digital, everything will automatically be recorded onto the customer’s account activity log.” The initiative is funded by infamous CIA front USAID, which “has awarded a US$25-million, five-year project to a company called Chemonics to support the Philippine government in the promotion and adoption of e-payments in the Philippines.”

SAUDI ARABIA – A MasterCard report on “The Cashless Journey” noted that by increasing the share of debit card transactions in the economy between 2006 and 2011, Saudi Arabia was moving at a faster than average pace toward a cashless society. Commenting on the report, Khalid Hariry of MasterCard noted: “Saudi Arabia is indeed moving at a better than average pace on its cashless journey, which has been significantly spurred along by government leadership. Regulation mandating wages assignment of employees’ to bank accounts has vastly increased access to electronic payment methods for the Saudi population over a short period of time. These changes, coming alongside initiatives to spur acceptance, and a push to migrate payments made during the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, can be expected to shift substantial share of consumer payments away from cash in the coming years.”

SPAIN – Citing budgetary austerity and the need to clamp down on tax fraud the Spanish government banned cash payments of more than 2,500 euros in 2012.

SWEDEN – Last year Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology released a report stating that the country is on track to completely eliminating cash transactions in the foreseeable future. Noting that there are now only 80 billion Swedish crowns in circulation in the economy (down from 106 just six years ago), the report highlights how digital person-to-person payment technology “Swish” (developed in collaboration with Danish banks) is already transforming the country’s banking sector, where there are now entire banks that do not accept cash. Meanwhile, the Swedish public is being urged to stop using cash by no less a cultural icon than ABBA’s Björn Ulveaus, who brags that the ABBA museum is now a cashless institution.

URUGUAY – Under the “Financial Inclusion Law” which took effect in May 2015 the Uruguayan government has banned all cash payments over $5,000, thus requiring all property and vehicle purchases to go through the banking system. This is part of a wave of such legislation throughout Latin America hailed as a way of “giving the people what they need” (i.e. access to banking) even when (as the very same report notes) “those on the edges of the financial system are distrustful of banks” especially in Uruguay.

UK – In 2014 cashless payments surpassed cash payments for the first time in the UK, with research (from cashless payment provider Kalixo Pro) suggesting that the average Brit only carries £17.79 in cash at any time and 1 in 4 will walk away if a business doesn’t accept card payment. London buses went cashless in 2014 and just last year the Bank of England’s chief economist made the case for negative interest rates and abolishing cash.


  1. Revelation 13:16 “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
    And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
    Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

    Do not partake of the Identification verification that will be necessary to buy or sell.

    • There are three distinctly different forms of ID that the scripture warns of 1) the mark of the beast in the right hand or in the forehead 2) the name of the beast 3) the number of his name. These are all forms of identification. The Veri corporations (Verichip, Verify, verifone, etc..) are all involved in the identification security for financial transactions.That’s another rabbit.

      The word “worship” does not mean what most people think it to mean. It means to put one’s faith or trust in. One false teaching in delusional churchianity is that somehow “worship” is when we physically praise or adore something or someone. So the corporations that call themselves “churches” have these musicians that they call “worship teams.” Something never found in the scriptures.

  2. My local Waitrose supermarket has self-service checkouts that only accept card payments. It’s incredibly easy to buy just a few groceries with a wave of your contactless card – if you want to use cash to have to stand in a usually long queue.

    When I visited London a few months ago, I took the underground and then tried to get on a bus – but the bus driver said I had to use an Oyster Card. He wouldn’t accept cash, so I had to walk!

    On a slightly different issue, my bank, First Direct, recently informed me that I will soon be able to log on to my account by scanning my fingerprint!

  3. Hi James, here are a few countries you can add to the list:

    In 2011 newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti made cash payments over 1000 euro illegal.

    In 2013 Switzerland is proposing to ban cash payments in excess of 100,000 francs.

    Russia may ban cash payments for purchases of more than 300,000 rubles (around $10,000) starting in 2015 [needs to be verified].

    In 2012 Spain begain prohibiting consumers from paying cash to settle bills of 2500 euro’s or more.

    In 2013 Mexico a ban took effect in which cash payments of more than 200,000 pesos were made illegal.

    In 2015 Uruguay bans all cash payments over 5000 US dollar.$5000-as-of-next-year

    • Thanks for the help. I’ve added entries to the article incorporating the information on Italy, Spain, Mexico and Uruguay. I have not added the Switzerland and Russia information yet as both of those reports were announcing potential future changes that I can’t confirm have been implemented. If you (or anyone) can provide confirmation that those changes were made in Switzerland or Russia I will add them to the list.

    • Thank you for the help, malcap1. I’ve added entries for Australia and the Philippines based on the above information.

    • Thanks for the help, Lance. I’ve added a UK entry to the article incorporating this information.

  4. Thanks for the tip. I’ve added the info to the Swedish entry.

  5. Thanks for the link. I’ve added a China entry with the above information.

  6. Of course you are correct about this, but I plan on doing a separate open source investigation to piece together a country-by-country biometric ID guide in the future.

    • Well those links you compiled in your article are going to be very handy when we put together the biometric ID investigation! Cheers.

  7. Some more from Australia…

    “Government rushing through cashless welfare card trial – The plan will allow up to 80 per cent of a person’s payment placed on a bank card that cannot be spent on alcohol or gaming…”

    A similar program was tested on Aboriginals some time ago and now it is being expanded.

    There is also a push by local government in Australia to move to cashless systems.

    “stallholders seek refund from Hobart City Council over cashless system failures”

    The system allows the council to impose a 10 percent tax on each transaction between a customer and a private stallholder (In addition to stall fees)

    • Thank you for the links. They have been added to the Australian section.

  8. Further Aussie tidbits:
    Oh no, Australia’s losing the race to a cashless economy!

    Also, industry self-regulator APCA’s 2014 report “The Evolution of Cash” promotes cashless economies, using case studies and trends but admits: “Although noble in its aspiration, a “cashless” society is most likely unattainable in the foreseeable future, given the inertia in consumer behaviour and the continued use of cash for nefarious purposes.”

    Finally, ATO (Oz tax collector) targets cash economy: “The Credit and Debit Card Data Matching Program, now in its fifth year, will enable the ATO to track down businesses that are operating in the illegal cash economy.”


  9. In the Netherlands we have our major supermarket chain offering self checkout services which can only be done cashless with a bankcard.

    Also the Netherlands have tried to get the “chipknip” off the ground for small transactions (Chip for a quick payment up to a certain amount without using a personal code). It was quite vigoursly promoted on national TV through adds. However, that idea has been repealed after a few years because it wasn’t succesfull.

    However, there are many stores which have signs saying they prefer pin-transactions to cash. Other than that I’m not aware of any attempts to restrict cash transactions here.

  10. Thanks for the help. Entries for Hong Kong, Kenya and Saudi Arabia have been added to the article based on the above information.

  11. Thanks for the help. Belgium and the Netherlands have been added to the article.

    • same mind-set’s that run the world now also gave us this bible business , lets just be aware of that and not get too caught up in it. Seems the commandments just like laws today apply to the normal class of people , but not to those writing them unfortunately .

      and then we kind of need translation to figure out exactly what these lines mean . Any actual idea setatliberty ??

      • You are correct with the “Bible business” assessment.

        The words of the Lord were given to men that knew the Lord through His mercy. He filled them with His Holy Spirit and they wrote every perfect word (and punctuation) that the Lord gave them to write. All through time, God preserved His Words as David declared when he was filled with the Holy Ghost “Thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” And we have a body of texts that has been preserved and has remained unchanged throughout the centuries and millennium, known as the “Majority Texts” or “Textus Receptus.” They were written by men that were widely diverse from their occupations throughout the centuries and some scripts are over 2,000 years apart. These writings perfectly harmonize with each other in word and doctrine. These texts were translated by 54 of the greatest experts in the ancient languages of the original texts into the English language by the commission of James, the king of England, in the early 1600’s.

        The Lord most definitely moved the heart of the king to commission the translation. God knew that English would be the prominent language in these last days, and He has promised that this gospel would be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.

        [SNIP: This is a fascinating discussion, but completely and utterly off topic for the purpose of this open source investigation of cashless payment systems around the world. If you have any links to contribute regarding payment systems or initiatives in various countries please do so. Any further posts about Biblical textual variants will be snipped from this thread. – JC]

      • Ha. A translation needed? For a book that is itself a translation from the murderous tyrant King James most likely? Laughable.

        I have an affinity for divinity; but a gullible dupe I am not!

        How ’bout we develop our personal discernment and direct connection to the good side of the force and some common sense.

        Less susceptible to nefarious machinations and such.

        Kinda like my bitterly clinging to the idea of personal privacy in regards to assets/currency/transactions.

        The Federal Reserve System must go. Period. Who’s with me?

        [As noted above, the conversation is interesting but off topic for the purpose of this open source investigation. Any further posts about Biblical translation will be snipped from this thread. – JC]

  12. Fantastic how they always leave out the true top benefits , to those in power , and make it seem like its such a great deal for the merchants and customers. What a croc . Hope all see through it eventually .

  13. Seems to me that there would be a backlash if implemented now. Nobody has tried, likely because of the harsh reality, that the people on the street will pick another medium for simple transaction if they remove cash, they remove their power. I doubt any countries will actually try this without an alternate medium for the streets.

  14. Thanks for the contribution. I’ve added Argentina to the list and incorporated the above information.

  15. Thought I’d add Ireland to the mix:

    Some links here:

    Ireland had the highest number of ATM withdrawals in 2011:,%20Cost%20and%20Pricing%20of%20Retail%20Payments%20in%20Ireland.pdf

    Also interesting to note in the above document is the top four countries for ATM withdrawals…Germany, Greece, Belgium and Ireland.

    And a nice map on cashless transactions in Europe:

    Finally, Cork City in Ireland running a pilot cashless programme:

    • Thanks for the links. I’ve added Ireland to the list and incorporated the information you provided.

  16. Thanks for the links. I’ve added the relevant info to the “UK” and “Germany” entries.

  17. My contribution is in reference to a the UK-based group Positive Money and their recent proposal to implement a system of “digital cash” in the UK.

    I have been aware of this group for a number of years, as they have been one of the more visible parties in Britain banging the drum to raise awareness about the fact that banks create money out of nothing and why that’s a problem. Sounds good, right? From this they appear to be on the right side of the monetary issue. They are also regular guests on Max Keiser’s show.

    However now they are proposing a system of digital cash that they say would not replace physical cash but would augment the current monetary system by allowing everyday people (rather than just banks) to have digital accounts at the Bank of England, the central bank. Right there I smell a rat. I mean there is a lot more to it. But really? As if the *central* bank isn’t *central* to the fraud and counterfeiting currently being perpetrated.

    Positive Money makes the following disclaimer:

    “Please note, this is not a proposal to abolish physical cash. Notes and coins are going to be around for at least another 30 years or so – as long as people keep using them. This gives you the option to make electronic payments without being forced to use bank deposits created by the bank. It gives you an option to opt-out of the current debt-based monetary system. It’s a step towards full monetary reform. Once the Bank of England start issuing money, it becomes easier to argue that they can do a better job of it than commercial banks. For privacy concerns, digital cash issued by central banks is no different in terms of privacy than payments made using electronic bank accounts. And again, cash will still be around for 30 years or so.”

    Very slippery stuff. I used to look kindly on this group but now my strong suspicion is that they are professional shills — and that’s a word I hardly ever use.

  18. Also, if you read Positive Money’s detailed report about digital cash, the initial rationale for it (section 1.1) is very interesting, explicitly connecting it to long-term negative interest rates and restricting people’s ability to have money outside of the banks’ ability to charge interest on deposits.

    They mention Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England. “Haldane
    suggests that one way to eliminate the Zero Lower Bound is to abolish physical cash so that people can only hold either bank deposits, or digital cash at the Bank of England, on which negative interest rates could be levied:”

    Then they quote Haldane: “One interesting solution, then, would be to maintain the principle of a government-backed currency, but have it issued in an electronic rather than paper form. This would preserve the social convention of a state-issued unit of account and medium of exchange, albeit with currency now held in digital rather than physical wallets. But it would allow negative interest rates to be levied on currency easily and speedily, so relaxing the ZLB constraint.” (Haldane, 2015)

    NIRP and the cashless society are two sides of a coin… no pun intended.

  19. This is somewhat an oddball comment, doesn’t necessarily add much value to the list that’s being created, but it does fit the theme of a “cashless society”.

    I was checking out what new technologies were showcased at CES 2016 and had stumbled upon an RFID Protected Wallet that was designed specifically for cards and not cash.

    I know it doesn’t seem like much, but subtle marketing tactics and product introductions like this add fuel to a growing idea.

    • Okay, so now let me add some more relevant items to the conversation.

      I know here in the United States the government does have various programs in place for shifting towards electronic payment systems.

      Stored Value Cards
      “A Stored Value Card (SVC) is a card-based electronic alternative to cash. It uses a “smart card” that contains a microprocessor computer chip that both stores electronic currency and processes financial transactions.”

      “The DirectExpress® Debit MasterCard® provides an option for people getting federal benefits who do not have a bank account, and are looking for a no- or low-cost alternative to get the funds without using check cashing facilities or carrying cash.”

      “An alternative to cash, ATM card, credit cards, and checkbooks. An EagleCash card can replace all of that for you when you are in a deployed location.”

      “The Navy Cash/Marine Cash card is a branded debit card that looks like a typical debit or check card. Navy Cash/Marine Cash combines a chip-based electronic purse (stored-value function) with the traditional magnetic stripe (debit card and ATM function). The electronic purse replaces currency aboard ship.”

      “With electronic funds transfer (EFT), government agencies can pay and collect money electronically, without having to use paper checks.”

      “EZpay is a cash management tool designed to support U.S. military personnel training in the Army, Air Force, and Marines.”

      Iowa City VA Health Care System Goes Cashless!

      You’ll also find throughout various college campuses cashless cafes and food courts; I suppose this could be seen as a form of inoculating an idea. Enough exposure to an idea can lead to its adoption?

  20. Morgan Stanley Managing Director Huw van Steenis says the following in his article “5 Things I Learned at Davos 2016”.

    “More concerning, one policy-maker called for a rapid introduction of a cashless society so that even more negative deposit interest rates could be introduced in Europe to offset likely secular stagnation. Bottom line, I came away more concerned about the longer-term risks to intermediaries who don’t seize the fintech day.”

    Original article posted to the World Economic Forum website:

    ZeroHedge story on his comments:

  21. China:

    To find out more about the insider’s perspective from within Chinese Central Bank, here is the actual (edited) transcript of the interview with the governor of the People’s Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan, in which he answers the following questions:

    – The PBOC held a seminar on digital currency on January 20, saying that the central bank will try to launch its own digital currency as soon as possible. What are the considerations behind this?

    – What is the central bank’s thinking on the issuance and management of a digital currency? Will it be different from the digital currency in the market right now?

    – Is there any timetable for the launch of digital currency? Will a digital currency replace paper money?

    – Do we still need monetary policies once we have digital currency? How will monetary policies be implemented against such a background?

    – What anti-forgery measures will be taken for the digital currency? For example, how to avoid the “51-percent attack” security loophole in bitcoins?

    – Block chain technology has recently attracted lots of attention. Has the central bank considered using block chain technology for its digital currency?

    Very interesting! There are numerous valuable tidbits of valuable information to be found in this interview. One of which is the Chinese Central Bank governor’s view that a (central bank issued) digital currency will co-exist with cash for quite a long time before it finally replaces cash.

    Check out the link (and acroll down):

  22. Hi James,

    The United States should also be on the list, in my humble opinion.

    The war on cash in the United States has already been fought for a very long time. Currently the largest denomination of a U.S. dollar bill is 100$. But in the past, there have been larger denominations that have already been taken out of circulation: $500, $1,000, $5,000, $10,000 and even a $100,000 bill (which was discontinued in 1940):

    So the value in the largest bill has been declining from $100,000 to $100 in the time-period 1940 to 2015. That is a reduction in worth of a 1000 times(!) in the largest denomination cash bill in about 75 years.

    At the same time the goldprice of one troy ounce was in 1940 was $33.85 (, while in 2015 it was about $1,150 per troy ounce on average (

    This means that:
    – in 1940 you could buy 100000/33.85 = 2954.2 (troy) ounces of gold with the largest denomination bill in cash.
    – in 2015 you could buy 100/1150 = 0.087 (troy) ounces of gold with the largest denomination bill in cash.

    In 1940 you could buy about 2954.2/0.087 = 33956 times more(!!!) gold with the largest denomination cash bill than you can buy in 2015.

    And now Larry Summers proposes to even kill the $100 bill (

    Yes, I would say that cash has been dealt enormous blows in the United States in the last 75 years, and this is continuing full throttle up to the present day.

    • Yes, I know. US citizens couldn’t actually buy gold at the time in 1940. And the $100,000 cash bills were used for certain internal transactions, in contrast to the $10,000 and lower denomination cash bills which were printed for general use (in large transactions). But my comment above still illustrates the tremendous decline in purchasing power of the largest denomination cash bills in the past decades.

  23. ** My previous posts on the War on Cash and the players behind it can be found HERE. **

    My opinion: The “War on Cash” is actually part of something called “Financial Inclusion.” The buzzword for a scheme to ensnare the estimated 2 billion working age people on Earth who are not already plugged into the “Giant Squid” (aka the banking system).

    At it’s base level, cash is no more than a physical unit of value. You can hold it in your hand. You can put it in your pocket, in a bank vault, or even in a box under your mattress. But just as you can put it in, so can you take it out. And therein lies the true problem with cash, for the bankers that is. You can take it out of their system. But in the cashless society, there is nothing physical to take out. You and your value are stuck in their system.

    So in essence, the cashless paradigm is not the end in and of itself, its a means to the end. Part of the plan. So here is what I’m watching for:

    Universal Financial Access by 2020 (UFA2020)

    The goal: to get 2 billion adults to have access to a “transaction account” by the year 2020. Why? Because “[e]xtending access to financial services is necessary to reduce world’s poverty and increase prosperity.”

    Being part of the system will be a cornerstone of your life.
    “The UFA2020 envisions that adults worldwide — women and men alike — will be able to have access to a transaction account or an electronic instrument to store money, send payments and receive deposits as the basic building block to manage their financial lives.”

    Where are they focusing? 25 countries where 73% of these poor backwards people not included in the banking system reside: India and China are the big ones. Followed by Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Vietnam, Tanzania, Turkey, and Zambia.

    How: “introducing transaction accounts, expanding access points, improving financial literacy, and driving scale and viability through high-volume government programs, such as social transfers, into those transaction accounts.” The main attack vector is through governments, which is where we see most of this stuff coming from in James’ article.

    • Payment Aspects of Financial Inclusion (PAFI)- September 2015

      A report by the World Bank Group (WBG) and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), that “provides an analysis of the payment aspects of financial inclusion, on the basis of which it sets out guiding principles designed to assist countries that seek to advance financial inclusion in their markets through payments.”

      These are the guidelines for payment systems that countries will be using to reshape their financial systems to make them more “financially inclusive.”

      It’s 77 dry and convoluted pages, but I hope some of you will poke through it and share what you find. Here are some interesting nuggets:

      What is a transaction account?
      Wondering what that thing they want everyone to have is?

      “For the purposes of this report, transaction accounts are defined as accounts (including e-money accounts) held with banks or other authorized and/or regulated payment service providers (PSPs), which can be used to make and receive payments
      and to store value.” (pg. 2)

      The objectives of a financially inclusive payment system
      What are we shooting for here? Well, according to this report, “ideally, all individuals and micro-and some small-sized businesses,” should be using one of these fancy transaction accounts to do three things: “(i) to perform most, if not all, of their payment needs; (ii) to safely store some value; and (iii) to serve as a gateway to other financial services.” (pg. 2)

      Note how the ideal situation is for every individual, and small business to be using a transaction account to perform most, if not all, of their payment needs. In the current paradigm, who do you most associate with using or taking cash for payments? Individuals and small businesses might be a good guess. Also be careful, it could be a gateway drug to other financial instruments, likely loans or debt.

      Cashless benefits for the NPS?
      In the report, a national payments system or NPS, refers to “all payment-related activities, processes, mechanisms, infrastructure, institutions and users in a country.” Pretty much the entire economy right?

      Here is a gem from the report: “Second, the channelling of larger volumes of payments through transaction accounts increases the overall efficiency of the NPS. In other words, as the usage of cash decreases, the overall cost of making payments to society as a whole may decrease as well.” (pg. 6)

      So if every person, institution and business in the country start using our transaction accounts for every payment we make or receive, with our account cards and our e-money, then the total costs to make those transactions should go down too, maybe, hopefully. Sign me up!

      Something positive?
      Out of the estimated 9.6 million households (or about 21 million adults) without a bank account in the U.S., about 34.2% of them cited “their dislike of or distrust in banks as one reason they were unbanked and slightly more than one in seven (14.9%) unbanked households reported this to be the main reason.” (pg. 7, box 1)

      Interrelation of foundations, catalytic pillars and effective usage
      Might look like a mouthful of gobbledygook, but a picture is worth a 1000 words. On page 22, Figure 1 perfectly illustrates the goal of the whole system.

      What do we want? Everyone to have a bank account (universal access), and to use it all the time!

      What will get everyone to use them all the time? A snazzy design! Lots of ways to access the account! Teach those knuckleheads about how they work! Integrate them into big programs that lots of people have to use over and over again!

      What do we need to get the whole thing off the ground? Banking and technology infrastructure! Laws and regulations that make people use accounts! Governments and businesses that will require the accounts!

      Your new financially inclusive e-ID!
      On page 33, they talk about putting together a “modern and robust ID system (eg an electronic ID or e-ID system),” to help “reliably” validate your transactions!

      Whats an e-ID you might ask? The report succinctly sums it up, “Identification systems that use electronic and biometric technology are often referred to as digital ID-systems or electronic ID-systems. In those systems, the identity can be securely and unambiguously asserted and verified through electronic means for delivery of services across sectors, including healthcare, safety nets, financial services, and transport.” (pg. 33, footnote 52)

      Tricked you, it’s not just for every single payment you make anymore! It pays to read the fine print…

    • MintChip Not Dead In Canada

      Looks like the program was purchased from the Canadian mint and was rolled out in select locations last month, with a cash back program to incentivize use. Here’s the CEO of the company:

      “Canadian consumers and businesses have an opportunity to be the first to experience the benefits of MintChip digital cash,” said Laurence Cooke, CEO and founder of nanoPay. “Whether sending money to a friend or paying in-store, MintChip provides Canadians their first glimpse of a cashless society.

    • A glimpse inside the private 2016 White House Financial Technology Summit.

      According to the WSJ, this White House summit was private. Wonder what they were talking about inside? Here are some quotes from an attendee:

      This was also an interesting panel with Franz from PayPal noting that “the best way to shut down corruption is to digitalise cash”. This is so true. Vikas built on this by recognising that mobile services like Easypaisa in Pakistan and M-Paisa in Afghanistan move money straight from government accounts to the account of the target user.

      The panel went on to talk about blockchain for identity. Combine blockchain digital identities, based upon a mobile biometric fingerprint or eyeball, with a mobile wallet that has interoperability and standards, and you have a transformational moment.

    • Humanitarian Reform Clamor and Cashless Paradigm

      In 2010 when Haiti was struck by an earthquake, Presidents Obama, Clinton and George W. Bush gave a presser from the Whitehouse. “I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water,” Bush said, following up with a quick head shake, “just send your cash.”

      And people did. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund collected over $54 million, with a fair amount of it from individual donors, who heard the former President’s call to send their cash.

      Now another group has begun to see the wisdom of Bush’s words, and a clamor has arose for reform in the humanitarian field. Just send cash! Not only should people now not send blankets or water or food, but the humanitarian organizations are now deciding they should stop giving those items to people as well.

      No need for blankets, keep warm with some cash!

      Hungry? Eat some cash! (because, you know, the supermarkets were all destroyed by the easrthquake)

      Sadly, you wont even get a dose of fiber though, because the cash won’t actually be cash. It should be a credit card, or digital payments, which are more efficient and save resources! Bon appetit.

      • How cash transfers can transform humanitarian aid

        High level panel report on how great cash is for people in crisis. Some of the highlights from their 12 recommendations:

        * The question should always be, “why not cash?”

        * Leverage cash transfers to link humanitarian
        assistance to longer-term development and social
        protection systems.

        * Where possible, deliver cash digitally and in a
        manner that furthers financial inclusion.

        * Wherever possible, make humanitarian cash
        transfers central to humanitarian crisis response as
        a primary component of Strategic Response Plans,
        complemented by in-kind assistance if necessary.

      • The Grand Bargain

        This year marked the first meeting of the World Humanitarian Summit in May of 2016. This is the super group of the best minds in the humanitarian sphere who are going to reform humanitarian aid. The report they generated is called “the Grand Bargain.”

        Interestingly on pg. 7, under the heading of “4. Reduce duplication and management costs with periodic functional reviews,” they lay out a few ways to cut costs. One notable line:

        Reducing management costs depends upon reducing donors’ and aid organisations’ individual reporting requirements and oversight mechanisms.

        Sounds like a questionable idea given all the graft that has been going on with “charitable” funds in the last 5-6 years…

      • Yes, its almost like institutionalizing the Clinton/Bush Haiti model where you send the cash, and then its gone.

        Just remember that the goal is to get 2 billion more people into the central banking system and using digital money by 2020, and that one of their methods is to:

        “[Leverage] large-volume recurring payment streams.”

        See page 22, Figure 1 of this report:

        Humanitarian aid is definitely a LARGE VOLUME payment stream, and it can be recurring to, since now the humanitarian NGO’s are trying to:

        “Leverage cash transfers to link humanitarian assistance to longer-term development and social protection systems.”

        See page 6 of this recent ODI report:

        The idea is that if a country gets destroyed you go in and give “humanitarian” cash paymetns left and right instead of commodities (ie. food, water, blankets, clothing, etc.)

        Then, hopefully, by the time the disaster is over you have got people, the gov’t, or both so hooked on recurring cash payments that you can just make them part of the “long-term development” of the country, or as part of its “social protection systems” (aka. social safety net).

        It’s some real economic hitman stuff…

    • What the U.S. can learn from India’s move toward a cashless society

      This line smacked me right in the face…

      A decade ago, India had a massive problem: nearly half its people did not have any form of identification. When you are born in a village without hospitals or government services, you don’t get a birth certificate. If you can’t prove who you are, you can’t open a bank account or get a loan or insurance; you are doomed to be part of the informal economy — whose members live in the shadows and don’t pay taxes.

  24. India is doing the same thing with their Aadhaar universal ID.

    Looks they will be using it with the recently launched Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which is something like an email address tied to your biometric data, to turn your phone into a debit card for payments to individuals, businesses and banks.

  25. Bulgaria has a law called “Law for the Limitation of cash payments”.
    It is active since the 1st of January 2016 and limits the amount of cash that someone could use for a given transaction.
    If say I want to buy a house, I absolutely have to use a bank transfer.

    The max sum is currently 10000BGN (~5000EUR) and the parliament just ratified a change in that low that will lower the limit to 5000BGN (~2500EUR)

    Here is the text of the law in Bulgarian of course:

    They say it is a way to limit the “grey economic sector” but it actually looks more like the corporate control grid than anything. Plus for years we’ve had ‘lucrative offers’ for cheap credit cards and cash-less payments.
    I am researching the situation further. For sure almost no one accepts BC here.

  26. Visa to Help U.S. Small Businesses Go Cashless

    “To encourage businesses to go cashless, Visa is announcing The Visa Cashless Challenge, with a call to action for small business restaurants, cafés or food truck owners to describe what cashless means for them, their employees and customers. Visa will be awarding up to $500,000 to 50 eligible US-based small business food service owners who commit to joining the 100% cashless quest.”

    • Markus,
      That is interesting. Just this week my banker was telling me about VISA’s war on cash.

      Evidently, VISA has been making some corporate moves. They pushed MasterCard downhill. They made arrangements with banks for VISA to be used in the banking industry (like the bank issued VISA card for your checking account).
      VISA lobbied hard to make a law…
      Many merchants were offering “cash discounts” or requiring minimum purchases (such as $5 minimum because of the credit card fees on the merchant). VISA tried to make this illegal for merchants. From what I understand, VISA would even bully merchants and threaten to disconnect their ability to take VISA if the merchant was trying to persuade customers to use cash.

      • That’s where we, the customers must take a stand. We have to demand that merchants accept cash or else we’ll take our business elsewhere.

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