What does it mean to be "buying into the cashless agenda?"

Someone accused me (!) of this. And the discussion was about fergodsake Dutch Bros. and a new QT gas station in my neighborhood. When I asked what that meant I got “microchips, VR, 5G, you name it they want you on it.” What the fuck over?? I think it’s 2 different conspiracy types but I honestly don’t know what I should be afraid of?? :slight_smile:

Apologies. Mods, could you please move this to IMHO?? I am still trying to learn this new board.

It means the gas station guy would rather deal in cash than tool up to accept a dozen forms of digital payment?

Up to him to do the arithmetic and figure out how much more he might take in by accepting Visa/Plus, Apple Pay, etc.

It means the Illuminati, in association with the Lizard People, the Stonemasons, and the Bilderberg group are tracking all your purchases.

It makes it difficult to buy guns, drugs and underage prostitutes unnoticed. Or to get paid under the table, avoiding paying your share of the taxes, to the great consternation of all true Libertarians everywhere.

And then one day you’ll receive a message: “Vote for Candidate Kodos, or we tell everyone about the purple butt plugs.”

There’s something to be said for not having all your purchases tracked and aggregated and fed back to you as spam, personalized ads and social content, but these shitheads turn it into some grand Machiavellian conspiracy.

It’s simple, companies want to make more money. If they can sell you convenience for a tidy percentage they will. Then if they can accrue data about a wide swath of the market and resell that, they will. Nobody is pulling any strings here.


But cash comes with its own costs and risks, like that of being robbed or losing money to a shortchange artist. And it’s not as if you need one machine to take Visa, another to take Mastercard, a third to take Apple Pay and a fourth to take Samsung Pay. One credit card terminal should be able to do all of those things. There is a gas station near me that only takes cash or debit card (with a $0.45 transaction fee) for fuel purchases, but it’s also the cheapest outside of Costco. Others have a different, lower price for cash vs credit card.

If there’s a “cashless agenda” then “everybody” is doing it.

I wish people didn’t hate on businesses quite so much. We see large businesses such as Walmart exploiting its workers and seem to think every business is like this. We also tend to see profit as evil: I’m fortunate that my income exceeds my expenses per month, so does that make me evil? Most small businesses are trying to do the same thing. If you are able to look at business income statements you will see many bring in lots of revenue but also have large expenses, so their profits are smaller than you might expects after you (say) just paid a dentist a lot of money to install a crown or just paid a lawyer to represent you in court, etc.

Businesses face costs when dealing with cash and also when dealing with electronic payments, they’re just different costs. Depending on the type of business, it may make sense to ditch cash. I don’t see most restaurants giving up cash anytime soon. Cash is still king when it comes to small purchases such as meals (even though many people will happily tap a debit card instead). In a capitalist society, a company can choose to change how they receive purchases, and you can vote with your wallet. Yes a customer can find that businesses that accept cash dwindle to the point that they’re hard to find, or charge more, etc, but you just have to put up with it. (Right now I would love to have a TV set that doesn’t require a remote control. There are probably three or four such TV sets in existence in my country. I’m not going to rant, too much, that nobody is selling what I want. Most people would just buy a TV set with a remote, though in my case I don’t need a TV since I have a computer so I just won’t buy. That is capitalism for you.)

Governments like less cash because it’s easier to fight tax fraud, inexperienced criminals, and terrorism when people aren’t using a lot of cash, but they’re not the ones pushing businesses to not accept cash. In some cases local governments are forbidding businesses from banning cash.

In Canada I’m finding some businesses are running on cash when they shouldn’t: real estate (because cash deposits made more than 3 months ago aren’t even looked at) and home repairs (tax fraud!). The last time I had a plumbing emergency they told me I wouldn’t have to pay tax if I paid in cash. I don’t want to cheat on taxes, I dn’t routinely have a lot of cash on me, and I needed to be refunded so I needed a receipt.

I only really see one problem with “cashless” and that’s people who cannot adapt, perhaps because they don’t have bank accounts. I don’t really know how to solve the problem of people who are reasonably intelligent but cannot manage their own finances, and I have no sympathy for those trying to dodge garnishments or are too mistrustful about banks to use an account.

I think some of us are misreading the OP’s story a bit. It isn’t the convenience store operator complaining about the so-called “cashless agenda” as raising his transaction costs. It’s some acquaintance of the OP claiming all this conspiracy nonsense when making non-cash payments. The convenience store was just the place the OP paid by card that triggered the conversation.

It’s all part of feeding raging paranoia into the US populace. Who have always had a wide streak of that anyhow: wiki.

The “cashless agenda” is the world where your every move is monitored, Big Brother is real, and Freedom is dead. Oh yeah, with lots of Lizard People.

Covid and the related coin shortage have definitely brought out the fringe. Apparently some credit cards are rushing out contactless cards even before the normal expiry.

There’s a fringe who thinks you’re being tracked by big bother for everything you buy when you pay by card. If you stop at that gas station, fill up and and buy a six pack of beer to enjoy in front of the tv, you’ll be pegged as a habitual drunkard according to their theory and big brother will take your driver license and kid visitation rights.

They’re nuts, but what conspiracy isn’t?

And yet some of the people who are all hung up about this surveillance, will at the same time be on the side of the elected officials who say Apple/Google/etc. should provide backdoors for government to look into our activities. Y’know so you can catch the terrorists/traffickers/whoever.

Yes, Big Brother is tracking this, except Big Brother isn’t the government. It’s private companies, like Google and Experian. They know a lot about you, even if you think you don’t pay attention to advertising and are above being marketed to.

Well, the Cubs game was delayed last night because of a giant drone flying over my neighborhood.

Was it black? :wink:

I mean, there is a legitimate “cashless” agenda that’s not a conspiracy theory (and obviously has nothing to do with 5G), it’s an actual policy goal of a variety of groups.

Law enforcement/Tax enforcement would like a reduction in cash because cash is useful for moving criminal money around and not paying taxes on income.
Monetary policy wonks would like a reduction in cash because the existence of cash limits their ability to run interest rates into the negative.
Visa, etc. would like a reduction in cash because they don’t make any money off of transactions in cash.

And so on. None of these are secret-cabal things, though.

I would say I’ve pretty much bought into the cashless agenda because cash is a hassle. You gotta go to the bank and have the right amount and deal with change and all anyone ever has is $20s because that’s all the ATMs give you. Cards/apps are easy, and my card gives me 2% back and a nice itemized account at the end of every month!

A few years ago, the Indian government demonetized the 500 and 1000 rupee banknotes specifically to get billions in unreported cash (what they call “black money”) back into the system so it could be taxed. They did this with very little notice and with a very short time during which people could deposit their money. I’ll bet that some were never able to deposit some bills or convert them to valid bills before the deadline expired. And then the Indian government and private industry was pushing the use of electronic payment methods, again so there’s less unreported income.

Yeah, I’m aware of the Indian process and my understanding is that it caused a lot of chaos and largely didn’t result in the effect they had hoped for.

I tend to think that the US’s policy that minted/printed currency is always good forever is a really good one and it’s kind of astonishing to me that other countries are willing to squander faith in their currency to achieve other policy goals, but to each their own, I guess.

The impression I get is that there is a lot less unreported income/black money in the US than in other countries, like India.

There were many explanations for the failure of demonetization but one was plain old corruption.

Before the experiment, the Indian government pushed simple bank accounts very hard. There was probably one bank account for every two people, so the number of unbanked people had plummeted (by Indian standards). Unfortunately, people weren’t actually using the accounts. They were just a sales pitch so the government could look good.

Then came demonetization. So every family has a bank account, great. Except many people didn’t like these accounts. Furthermore the government was going to tax amounts above a certain amount that suddenly appeared in bank accounts. Rich corrupt people would literally rent out bank accounts from poor people (often their employees) to hide the money there, up to that maximum. How they could trust their subordinates I don’t know. I saw it described as “corruption is like water, it will always find a way”. Furthermore lots of wealthy criminals routinely convert their cash into real estate, gold, and other things that you can easily buy with mounds of cash in India. I guess they watched movies about Al Capone and decided “nope, not falling for that”.

Another problem was the surprise. There are parts of India where education levels are low, few people have internet access, and so forth. People were lining up at the banks for hours like there was a bank run.

Another simple problem was the size of the bills. In Canada and the US, every commonly-used bill is the same size, so ATMs work smoothly. Not in India, at least not in 2016. The new currency was not the same size as the old currency (at least one of the two canceled bills had a different size), so lots of ATMs around a country with about a billion people needed to be adjusted all at once. This happened very quickly and smoothly, and by quickly I mean slowly.

Let’s clarify one thing: It’s a paranoid and incorrect notion that your purchases by bank card are being tracked item-by-item. When you present your bank card as payment, the only information transmitted is your identification information (name, account number, address), the merchant’s identification information, and the amount of the sale. The only information received in return is accepted or declined.

The detailed list of items you buy may well be collected via channels. For example, consider those Catalina printers at many supermarkets – they look just like receipt printers, but they print out customized coupons good for the future purchase of items similar to things you just bought. That whole process is handled by an outside third party. The cash register transmits your entire purchase detail to Catalina, which then prints out those coupons. I have no idea what more Catalina does with that information, but it is being sent.

(My cite: I worked for a cash register company, where I did the detailed programming to interface our registers to Catalina for those coupon printers. ETA: And I was also involved in the detailed programming for doing the credit/debit card interfaces.)

Modern cash registers, of course, are all computer-based database machines, and they record the full detail of every purchase, which may be stored for days or weeks or however long the store wants. In the case of big chain stores, the full detail of each day’s purchases may be transmitted to corporate headquarters, and there’s no telling what they may do with the data. (The primary use, of course, is for inventory management.)

But your credit cards and debit cards aren’t spying on you beyond just the places you shop and the amounts you spend. So if you spend a lot at The Casbah Adult Pleasures Emporium, they’ll know that, but they won’t know just what pleasures you bought.