Charles Moore

Why the crackdown on cash makes me uneasy

Why the crackdown on cash makes me uneasy
Text settings

Banks are trying to change our ways. Our own recently wrote to tell us that it will no longer send us cheque books unless we positively demand them. And now a battle is beginning to close down cash machines. It is reported that there are none at all in Stoke; and when I accosted an ATM in St James’s this week, it flashed up a message saying it would close in three days’ time. I suppose this is because having cash is becoming like smoking — a slightly furtive and discreditable minority occupation. We tap, so far fewer machines are needed.

It makes me uneasy. In theory, there is no more reason to trust coin and notes than any other form of money sponsored by government, but I do like the fact that cash is just that, rather than yet another data-miner keeping tabs on its possessors for reasons of bureaucratic intrusion or commercial gain. It is still the case that all US dollar bills ever issued by the Fed remain legal tender, whereas sterling notes are constantly being cancelled and replaced. If cash no longer reigns here, perhaps the dollar can be our king over the water. Perhaps I should go and buy lots of greenbacks against the day when Huawei or someone siphons off our entire computerised wealth.