Monday, April 23, 2012

Canada Moves Closer to Cashless Society With Digital MintChip Currency

As free market-based digital currencies like Bitcoin and e-gold continue to gain traction around the world, the government of Canada responded with the “MintChip,” an electronic payment system touted by authorities as “better than cash” and the “evolution of currency.” Critics of the scheme, however, were not so enthusiastic about the accelerating march toward a cashless society.
The Royal Canadian Mint announced the controversial scheme online earlier this month. And it is even hosting a contest to get application developers — “North America’s best brain power,” it said in a video — on board in highlighting the supposed “potential benefits.” Winners in the competition will receive prizes from a stash of about $50,000 in real money from the public’s gold holdings.
Essentially, the scheme will allow users to make small transactions using “digital currency” through cell phones and other mobile devices, supposedly anonymously — for now. It will start small, but proponents hope to eventually phase out coins and even small-denomination bills.  
“MintChip can be characterized as an evolution of physical money, with the benefits of being electronic,” the Mint claimed on its website advertising the contest, touting the possibility of giving children their allowances electronically. Apparently it is “so simple” that even a child could use it.
"Money as we know it is fine for today, but tomorrow is a different story," the promotional video claims. "Ever since the beginning of time, people have been buying and selling and using whatever currency was available. But today's digital economy is changing faster than ever, and currency has to change, too. It is.”
Last month, Canada already took a baby step toward eradicating cash by killing the penny. Like in the U.S., the one-cent coin now costs more to produce than its face value. But instead of sparking a much-needed debate about why that is — reckless inflation caused by central bankers — Canadians were prodded into debating whether cash in any denomination should exist at all. Apparently more than half of the population would not mind switching over to digital currency instead. 
Cashless Controversy:
Analysts of various persuasions have been celebrating the idea of killing cash, with allies in much of the establishment press heralding its supposed inevitability. Indeed, in recent years, physical currency — anonymous, untraceable, and simple — has come under a barrage of attacks by advocates of increased government control.
Supporters of a “cashless society” claim it would reduce robberies and make it harder for the “black market” to function. “Paper money is really the currency of crime: drugs, prostitution and the big kahuna of tax evasion,” claimed David Wolman, a proponent of a cashless society who recently published the book The End of Money.
Privacy and security activists, however, warned that the implications of the continued march toward a “cashless society" could be troubling — to say the least. Imagine a system that could track every transaction that takes place, for example. Or consider the wide range of issues already plaguing the world of digital cash: identity theft, hacking, cybercrime, credit card fraud, and much more.
Some Christians, citing a passage in the Book of Revelation, have expressed concerns about the accelerating trend as well. Scripture (Revelation 13:17) says: “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.” More than a few Bible scholars and theologians have found recent developments troubling in light of biblical prophecy. 
Pragmatists, meanwhile, pointed to a wide array of non-ideological potential problems with abolishing cash. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, for instance, could shut down the entire electrical grid and the “cashless” system that depends on it. Solar events, problems in the power grid, and natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and more could also devastate the system, rendering commerce close to impossible. So could hackers or cyberwarriors working for a hostile power.
Cashless Society: Coming soon?
While Canada has dominated the “cashless” headlines in recent weeks, Sweden has gone further down the road toward abolishing cash than any other nation on earth. According to media reports citing the Bank for International Settlements, physical currency makes up just 3 percent of the nation’s total supply. By contrast, the average in the Eurozone is about 9 percent.
Italy, meanwhile, has banned large cash transactions. And if the new, unelected “Prime Minister” — a Bilderberg leader who seized power last year in what critics called a “coup d’├ętat” orchestrated by bankers and the European Union — the limit on non-digital transactions could be reduced to less than $1,500.
In the U.S., the increasingly paranoid federal government has been distributing propaganda leaflets teaching merchants and others that cash should be considered suspicious — possibly even an indication of terrorism. Critics ridiculed and attacked the fliers, distributed by various federal agencies, but the troubling trend toward official demonization of cash is only escalating.      
"We're evolving towards a cashless society but I do think cash will continue to play a role in society for a period of time yet. Patterns are changing substantially and people are increasingly using alternatives to cash," said Royal Bank of Canada executive Vice President Wayne Bossert, noting that the role of cash would further diminish over time. "Alternate payment solutions are going to accelerate the movement towards a cashless society though I'm not convinced we'll get there overnight.


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