Just One Crisis Away from Cashless
Puerto Ricans presently without cash are in severe straits now that the electronic grid is down. They do not have the cash to buy supplies; and, since the electronic grid is down due to the recent hurricanes, they cannot use electronic options. However, the discerning will realize that this present weakness in electronic currency will not stop the rush to a cashless society. The powers that be will merely fix "the problem." They will probably use, or engineer, a crisis to impose a cashless dystopia.
Countries around the world are racing to go cashless. India, South Korea, Sweden. Governments have myriad reasons to want to do so. Cashless paradigms can stop crime. Drug dealing would become harder. Tax evasion would become difficult. Terrorism would be stifled. Without untraceable cash, trafficking in illegal weaponry would become extraordinarily difficult.
"We wanted to minimise the risk of robberies and it's quicker with the customers when they pay by card," says Victoria Nilsson [in Sweden], who manages two of the bakery chain's 16 stores across the city. -- BBC
So why would the Swedes be rushing to give banking institutions control of one of the last areas of total autonomy available to modern man, fungible cash? Apparently, naivete is a Swedish trait.
"Swedes tend to trust banks, we trust institutions... people are not afraid of the sort-of 'Big Brother' issues or fraud connected to electronic payment."
Somewhat paradoxically, Sweden's decision to update its coins and banknotes, a move announced by the Riksbank in 2010 and fully implemented this year, actually boosted cashless transactions, explains Prof Arvidsson. -- BBC
One could not imagine Americans having such an ingrained trust of banks or institutions. Don't worry! For the recalcitrant, a good crisis can be imposed or engineered.
India had a barely modern system of records just a few years ago.
Before 2009, half of all Indians didn’t have any form of identification, not even a birth certificate.
Without a form of identification, citizens couldn’t access services like banking, insurance, or even get a driver’s license. As such, many opportunities like starting a business were not available to them. -- Business Insider
Yet, India may be poised to become the first cashless country on the planet. Prime Minister Modi's administration acted "to ban 85% of the currency in circulation" in 2016. Indians were given an Aadhaar number.
Aadhaar is a biometric database based on a 12-digit digital identity, authenticated by finger prints and retina scans.
It became the largest and most successful IT project ever. As of 2016, 1.1 billion people (95% of the population) had a digital proof of identity. -- Business Insider
That is an amazing -- no, actually, a frightening -- turnaround. From backward technology to leader of the pack, almost overnight. The system is total and complete in scope. India added another system using Aadhaar, called India Stack:
India Stack allows citizens to open a bank account or brokerage account, buy a mutual fund, or share medical records anywhere in India with just a fingerprint or retinal scan from Aadhaar.
Put simply, India Stack could be the framework for a new digital society. -- Business Insider
As Business Insider pointed out, if this could happen to India in just a few years, this process can be replicated anywhere in the planet.
A Cashless Future Is The Real Goal Of India's Demonetization Move -- Forbes
The Swedes seem to be in a race with India.
Puerto Rico's example does pose a problem, though. What do people do when the grid comes down, due to hurricane or disaster? Do all transactions have to stop until the grid is back up?
The answer is to decentralize the data. Instead of having all transactions go through a central bank's computer, the data can be stored locally in the individual smart phone. This is already being used with the Bitcoin currency using a blockchain algorithm. In such a case, all that would be needed is to have two smartphones or devices, connected via bluetooth or card reader, for a transaction to be affected.
If the decentralized Bitcoin currency has not been adopted fully by nation-states yet, it is because the powers-that-be do not control it. Right now, Bitcoin transactions can be anonymous -- or at least as anonymous as any transaction on the internet can be. Since the blockchain hides identity, the government has to trace ISP records to see where the transaction came from. If this sounds impossibly difficult, one should remember that Hollywood has used ISP records to trace down people accused of file sharing copyrighted media; and in Europe internet providers used to keep logs of IP addresses vs individual accounts. It can be done, even if difficult. If not by governments, then by companies like Google or Facebook.
That will change, however. Already the Bank of England, the Ur central bank, is testing blockchain protocols.
Bank of England trials artificial intelligence and blockchain in bid to stay ahead of the pack -- Telegraph
And, this is truly foreboding:
[Former Fed Chairman] Bernanke to Give Keynote Speech at October  Cryptocurrency Event -- Bloomberg
The powers-that-be see the potential of blockchain technologies, and want to hijack it to their own ends. Of course, they will improve the convenience of it as it becomes universally accepted. It will offer the appearance of fungible transactions -- individuals can transact when the grid is down. So it will seem like cash. However, identity will not be kept anonymous. In cases like Puerto Rico, once the grid is back up, the authorities will have a record of every transaction made in the interim; and by whom it was made. The last aspect will not be touted to the public.
The state/banks will have almost total control of the individual's life when that occurs. Of course, someone will say that smart devices can be stolen. Yes, they can; and that will occur, mind you. But the authorities already have a solution to prevent such theft.
And he [the final dictator] 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. -- Rev 13:16-17
Even now, people are already lining up to be chipped.
At first blush, it sounds like the talk of a conspiracy theorist: a company [Three Square Market] implanting microchips under employees’ skin. But it’s not a conspiracy, and employees are lining up for the opportunity. -- NY Times, July 25 2017
Using India as our example, this transition can be effected rather rapidly. Using Sweden as an example, much of the population will actually welcome it.
The only opposition to this will be common sense -- always in short supply -- and the Christian religion, which made a point of warning against such a tyranny. But, Christianity has been attacked for decades.
We are only one crisis away; and the public has been prepared to accept what is coming. They will welcome it. And, thanks to companies like, Three Square Market above, the authorities will be able to boast that the technology has already been tested, and that it is safe and user-friendly.
Who but knows? Maybe the crisis of the cashless in Puerto Rico will be the impetus for official adoption of blockchain technologies. If not, another crisis will present itself. Then the authorities will offer a complete "solution." And, the leader who imposes it will be heralded as the savior of mankind.
As India and Sweden show, we may be only a year or two away.
Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who writes on various topics. He also just started a website about small computers at http://thetinydesktop.com.