Around 30% of payments are made using cash, making it still the most popular form of money transfer. However, research suggests that Generation Z are significantly less likely to carry dollar bills than Millennials and soon we could be entering a cashless society. In the future all transactions could be electronic, meaning that they can be traced. Where does this leave society when it comes to freedom? Libertarians need to start discussing financing options and whether it is possible to enter a cashless future that still protects the individual from government overreach.
Credit and Debit Cards
Ultimately, the market will dictate how the way we trade for goods and services occurs. It started with bartering, but then currency made shopping more convenient. Plastic is merely the next step in the evolution of money. Credit and debit card payments are safe and convenient, which is why their rise in popularity is inevitable.
However, many libertarians are concerned that using a card means that their data can be tracked. This goes against the right to privacy and could lead to your information falling into the wrong hands. For businesses, though, card payments are simply the most convenient method and make for more efficient operations. Libertarians, therefore, need to look into alternative electronic payments, such as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a way to maintain privacy.
Cash for Anonymity
Many people consider cash to be the safest form of payment. It cannot be traced and therefore all your transactions are private and anonymous. Libertarians should be careful with rushing into a society in which everything is done electronically. Keeping cash in the economy allows for the anonymity that is everyone’s natural right.
However, cash has its downsides. It is inefficient for businesses and cannot be used online. This means that you have to meet the seller in person. In reality, therefore, you cannot be completely anonymous. For true privacy, only online payments can completely hide your identity. However, this would require a VPN, access to the dark web, or using a cryptocurrency.
The issue of payment methods is a complicated one for libertarians. Ultimately, the market will decide and people will choose the option that makes the most sense at any given time. We should certainly be trying to slow down the move away from cash, at least until there is a technological solution that allows for absolute anonymity when shopping online using electronic payments.
By Jennifer Oswald