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"ahead of the West"

Ahem, ahead of the US, really. Canada and the EU can be cashless already, with chip cards and direct bank withdrawal at the POS a reality for 99.99% of merchants.

China is cashless. Stores don't accept your cash much. And you have to show a government id to buy anything. And they track you.

But it gets worse than that. If the government wants to punish you, they can just cut you off. Can't buy food, can't pay rent.

Oh you think your friends can help you? China has that covered too, with its shiny new credit system. Being associated with - let alone helping - people cut off from buying food may result in a drastic lowering of score and ability to do business yourself.

On the bright side, used wisely such coersion may he better than outright violence at stopping criminals and terrorists.

That's not accurate. I was just in Chengdu and Shenzhen last month and paid almost exclusively in cash everywhere I went. In fact for smaller vendors and street food, cash is the only option. Many vendors also accept WeChat payments (which seems to be the most common form of payment, at least for casual to mid-range transactions by people in my peer group), and UnionPay network credit cards are also widely accepted. Western credit/debit cards tend to work only at more upscale/modern/larger vendors. From what I've seen of Chinese commerce in various cities, I would be very very surprised if China went anywhere near cashless anytime soon. Cash seems to be a bigger part of the culture there than in the USA.

You do have to show government ID to get a cell phone or purchase long-distance train tickets. Also checking into a higher end hotel. And since using public Wi-Fi requires you to authenticate with your Chinese phone number, that's also effectively linked to your ID. There are many aspects of Chinese society that are easily trackable by the government, but commerce does not seem to be one of them, at least from what I've seen.

Thanks for the personal experience! So my impression was wrong. I'm happy about that.

Wait, is China really cashless now? A coworker of mine was just telling me that he used go with the accountant at his workplace to withdraw millions of dollars in cash from the bank to pay all the employees in cash. He hasn't worked in China for at least over 10 years but I didn't expect a change from million dollar cash transactions being commonplace to cashless in that time.

I dont think he knows what he is talking about. I spent 3 weeks in China in February, and used cash for pretty much everything including accommodation. Admittedly, there are lots of options for paying for things with wechat, etc. but it was nowhere near cashless.

China is nowhere near cashless. Though, they do do a lot of payments by mobile apps like Alipay and WeChat. I was there for 3 months recently and I used Alipay for almost every cos Im from NZ and whilst we have cash here I never use it, every transaction is done via debit card. Was so good when I got Alipay in China cos I hate cash. Still... China definitely isnt cashless.

Thankfully, there is a good amount of space between money under mattresses and a government controlled economy. Your comment is a giant straw man. Canadian and EU systems are private ones and the government has little or no power to directly intervene, short of law enforcement.

The idea that eliminating paper is some sort of boogeyman from Revelations is about as silly as the idea that holding on to your Glock allows you defend your rights against a corrupt government. Neither actually offer any type of protection against these particular issues.

Unless you are wandering around with $20K in cash everyday, your bank account is still subject to the very things you seem to be afraid of. The only thing that changes in a mostly cashless society is your access to your bank account. If the government is going to freeze your account, it matters little if you have a chip card or need to go to the teller.

Thankfully, we in the west have moved most of the management of this to the private sector, and require things like warrants before any real action is done. That can and is an issue at times, but has little effect on the day to day implementation of one method over another.

Sadly, I think the solution in the US and some parts of the EU is even worse than the chinese one.

Try buying Cuban cigars without cash anywhere. Your VISA or MasterCard will mysteriously fail to allow this purchase – because, due to the embargo, these companies just refuse to allow transactions containing the words "cuba", "iran", etc.

VISA and MasterCard also have additional rules of their own, and if you have a society that is cashless, they can just cut you off, too.

This is giving a for-profit entity (which, by its own nature, does not care about you, just about taking your money) far too much power.

Sweden is having that problem: You can’t do anything without a debit card anymore, banks have high fees just to get cash from your account, but the only debit cards you can get are from VISA or MasterCard.

This wouldn’t be an issue if there were many competitors, or even local competitors, or if the systems were open.

I'm Canadian, so not only can I buy Cuban cigars, I can buy them in a store down the street with my debit card. (A real debit card that connects directly to my account, not just a prepaid credit card.) Regardless though, making an illegal purchase isn't a very good reason to argue for cash; in fact you may have more luck changing the dumb laws if people are truly hurt by them.

The US definition of a "debit card" is massively different than the Canadian one. For us, our bank card is the debit card. The same one I use to take money out of my account at an ATM is the same one I can use to buy a $1 coffee.

Why some banks do charge outrageous fees, thanks to the free market there is a healthy market and many banks in Canada are now fully virtual or offer next to no fees.

Just because a system is poorly designed in one locale does not mean the idea itself is flawed, just that it should be implemented in an improved way.

> The US definition of a "debit card" is massively different than the Canadian one. For us, our bank card is the debit card. The same one I use to take money out of my account at an ATM is the same one I can use to buy a $1 coffee.

I keep seeing this pop up, but it's a misconception; we have these in the US too. I have one, although I don't use it for purchases (I use a rewards credit card that gets paid off monthly instead). Here's an example (hopefully Wells Fargo doesn't redirect you because you're in Canada): https://welcome.wf.com/checking/?gclid=CIzL2ong1NMCFVBtfgodb...

It's not that they don't exist, it's that you don't have the POS being widespread enough to support it in a common way.

The Interac system in Canada is pretty much a given for any vendor that has a cash register. That automatically makes every single bank card into a direct debit card. You can choose to use it if you want of course, but it's default for all bank accounts, really.

This is still very wrong. US debit cards work with any credit card-accepting POS. If you can enter 16 digits and expiration date and get a charge, your debit card will deduct that amount from your checking account for you.

> in fact you may have more luck changing the dumb laws if people are truly hurt by them.

But that’s the point.

Cuban Cigars are legal in Germany.

You can legally buy them.

But every payment processor that’s located in the US can not process such a transaction.

Relying on foreign companies for most basic needs means you lose a lot of sovereignty.

Given that I've personally bought Cuban cigars with my Amex card last Christmas as gifts, I'm pretty sure your assertion is false.

It's more likely the case that an American credit card holder cannot buy them, even when he is in Germany, because he's subject to American laws, as I would be if I took a box into the US and started selling them.

No, my assertion is pretty much right.

It went so far that PayPal, VISA and MasterCard ended up threatening several German store chains to stop selling products from Cuba or they’d end all business with the store

It went into national media, and was discussed on reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/ka26b/paypal_bl...

Rossmann won against PayPal in court, to this date they don’t offer any payment via PayPal.

They came to an agreement with VISA and MasterCard, where if a sale contains embargoed products, everything but these products can be paid by card, but the embargoed products can not.

Processors don't send l3 data for normal consumer based transactions. How would they know you were buying cuban cigars?

> many banks in Canada are now fully virtual or offer next to no fees.

Uhh, which ones? Free chequing accounts have transaction fees for Interac, and with unlimited Interac accounts you pay monthly or must keep a minimum balance. I'm sure there are a couple exceptions, but certainly not with TD, CIBC, NBC, etc.

Check out credit unions. I'm with Coast Capital and pay zero for fees at regular bank machines. "Private" atm fees do cost, yes. Tangerine and PC financial also offer no fee options too, but I'm not sure to what extent.

Were there any facts in your answer? Where did the parent mention Revelations?

I'm not sure what you are looking for. OP linked a cashless society to being the cause of government control. This is false. Government can exert control already in a cash-based society to a sufficient degree. It's more a style of the government in question than the tech used.

You missed the part where I said a government id is required to make a purchase, so there is a single point of failure aka disconnection. This is not true in the USA or other countries where you can have cards from many different banks so if one blocks you, you pay with another. And cash certainly represents a way of paying with no such restrictions.

Acknowledge that not using cash places is "advanced" but also want to say that being able to use cash is not necessarily a bad thing. Cash allows for anonymity, allows for the un-banked to conduct their business, and prevents 100% leverage of your transactions data (not to mention transaction fees) by the companies that handle them.

You are correct in all of this, of course, but cash can always be kept for backup even in societies that are mostly cashless.

The issue of "un banked" can be distinctly American too, actually. Given the extent of social programs in Can/EU, even the nearly homeless have bank accounts, because government funds are pushed directly into accounts, and it's more secure/timely than receiving a physical cheque. Not having a simply checking account is a very rare thing in Canada.

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