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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.