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最有看点的互联网金融门户
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为什么我们要惧怕无现金的世界?

健康食物连锁店Tossed刚刚开办了英国第一家无需现金支付的咖啡馆。这是现金走向灭亡的又一进程。

这其实并不是什么新鲜事。金钱代表着科技的发展进程。钱币的铸造技术使贝壳、鲸鱼牙齿以及其他这样的原始金钱形式成为多余。而印刷技术也对贵金属货币产生了同样的影响:我们开始使用纸币作为替代物。电子银行的出现使支票成为支付的方式。而现在非接触式支付手段也同样在取代现金支付的地位,因为现金支付变得越来越不方便。在市场条件下,便利为王。

我们生活的这个世界,就财富分配而言,是不公平的,甚至可能比以往任何时候都更加不公平。我担心的是一个无现金社会甚至可能进一步加剧这种不平等。

因为金融行业可能会拥有更多的权力,因为银行和相关的金融科技企业将会管辖全部交易。2008年金融危机就证明了这一点——当事态严重之时,银行可以免受严格的监管儿选择破产——但我们其他人却必须继续运营下去。难道我们想要这样的行业拥有更大的权力和影响力吗?

在没有现金支付的世界中,你完成的每一次支付都可以被追踪痕迹。你想要政府(政府并非总是扮演善良的角色)、银行或是支付信息处理机构获取你的支付信息吗?这种信息获知权的作用很大,而且很容易沦为过度政府监控的工具。

另一方面,现金赋予使用者权力。人们可以利用它买卖物品,储存财富,而不需依赖其他任何人。如果需要的话,他们可以保留在金融体系之外。

这其中有很多原因,跟道德层面和现实环境都有关系。比如2008年的时候,很多人急于将钱取出银行。如果金融体系确实如我们被告知的那样接近了崩溃的边缘,那么这样的行为是十分合理的。2011年,当塞浦路斯的银行在金融灾难的悬崖上摇摇欲坠之时,人们采用了自救机制——将账户中的资金都取出来。如果你毕生积蓄可能会被没收并用来救助一个你认为恣意挥霍的企业,我打赌你也会急着把钱取出来。

希腊也上演了类似的恐慌,甚至小幅波及了南欧。英国央行前任负责人Mervyn King最近指出,银行业并非稳如泰山,也就是说我们可能再次经历金融危机。日本央行实施了负利率政策,因此如果你存钱的话反而会损失金钱。据报道称,由于大量的现金从银行取出,使得该国的保险柜售罄。

这些都是退出金融体系的正当理由。我的意思不是我们应该把自己的存款全都从银行取出来,而是我们应该有这样选择的机会。现金就给了你这样的机会。为什么要动我们的奶酪?这是我们的钱,不是银行的。

电话和手机的故事就给我们上了一课。在2008年高峰期时,13亿固定电话服务链接着近七十亿的全球人口。今天有超过六十亿的人拥有手机——联合国的研究显示,这比平均每人拥有的卫生间数量还要高。很多人认为手机的普及对应着固定电话的衰落,因为先进的技术使得广泛的覆盖范围更具可能性。

不过简单来说,最主要的原因在于要得到一部固定电话,你需要一个银行账户和信用评级。世界上大概有一半的人是没有银行账户的,因而你也不能获得你需要的基本金融服务。电信公司没有看到潜在的习惯,也从不建设基础设施,但是手机和通话时间你可以用金钱购买。你不需要有银行账户,几乎任何人都能获得手机——他们也确实如此。金融体系对穷人来说是进步的障碍,但现金则是他们的助力。

到2020年,全世界六十亿人每人都会拥有一部(智能)手机。这样,他们就拥有了使用电商平台的基本可能。这也就是为什么在将来新型的数字货币将会发挥巨大作用——从 Kenya’s M-Pesa 到比特币无不如此——即使你身在金融体系之外,你也可以使用金钱。

不过现金对小额交易仍有作用,不如购买一块巧克力,一份报纸,一品脱牛奶。现金永远都是最快也最直接的支付方式。比如,我喜欢以现金的方式支付服务生小费,这样就能知道他们确实会收到钱,而不会被一些无良雇主抽走。我还喜欢在市场购物,在那儿我可以直接从生产商手里购买物品并知道他们确实会收到钱,而没有中间人在其中收取提成。

现金对私人交易也有好处,而且并非所有都是违法的。起步的小型企业需要现金,穷人们也需要有现金,现金战争就是对他们的战争。

可能会有一些新闻报道让你认为,使用现金的人要么是犯罪分子,要么是逃税分子,要么是恐怖分子。当然,有一些人确实会采用现金的方式来逃税,但如果和Google 与 Facebook的避税计划相比较,那点数额显然是微不足道的。 Google不采用现金的方式来避税。它所有的避税手段都是经过合法途径。

现金是指总的金融包容性,富裕阶层认为拥有财富是理所应当的。如果没有金融的包容性,那么总是会有一些人,不管出于什么原因,都不能拥有它。

The health food chain Tossed has just opened the UK’s first cashless cafe. It’s another step towards the death of cash.

This is nothing new. Money is tech. The casting of coins made shells, whales’ teeth and other such primitive forms of money redundant. The printing press did the same for precious metals: we started using paper notes instead. Electronic banking put paid to the cheque. Contactless payment is now doing the same to cash, which is becoming less and less convenient. In the marketplace convenience usually wins.

We already live in a world that is, as far as the distribution of wealth is concerned, about as unequal as it gets. It may even be as unequal as it’s ever been. My worry is that a cashless society may exacerbate inequality even further.

It will hand yet more power to the financial sector in that banks and related fintech companies will oversee all transactions. The crash of 2008 showed that, when push comes to shove, banks have already been exempted from the very effective regulation that is bankruptcy – one by which the rest of us must all operate. Do we want this sector to have yet more power and influence?

In a world without cash, every payment you make will be traceable. Do you want governments (which are not always benevolent), banks or payment processors to have potential access to that information? The power this would hand them is enormous and the potential scope for Orwellian levels of surveillance is terrifying.

Cash, on the other hand, empowers its users. It enables them to buy and sell, and store their wealth, without being dependent on anyone else. They can stay outside the financial system, if so desired.

There are many reasons, both moral and practical, to want this. In 2008 many rushed to take their money out of the banks. If the financial system really was as close to breaking point as we are told it was, then such actions are quite justified. When Cyprus’s banks teetered on the cliff of financial disaster in 2011, we saw bail-ins. Ordinary people’s money in deposit accounts was sequestered to bail out the system. If your life savings were threatened with confiscation to bail out a corporation you considered profligate, I imagine you too would rush to withdraw them.

We have seen similar panics in Greece and, to a lesser extent, across southern Europe. Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, recently declared that banking was not fixed and that we would see financial panic again. In Japan, the central bank has imposed negative rates and you are charged by banks to store money. This is to try and goad people into spending, rather than saving. So much cash has been withdrawn from banks that there are now reports that the country has sold out of safes.

These are all quite legitimate reasons to want to exit the system. I’m not saying we should all take our money out of the bank, but that we should all have the option to. Cash gives you that option. Why remove it? It’s our money. Not the banks’.

The telephone teaches us a useful lesson. At its peak in 2008, there were 1.3bn landlines for a global population close to 7 billion. Today more than 6 billion people have a mobile phone – more than have access to a toilet, according to a UN study. Many assume that the mobile succeeded where the landline failed, because the superior technology made widespread coverage more possible. There is something to that.

But the main reason, simply, is that, to get a landline, you need a bank account and credit. About half of the world’s population is “unbanked”, without access to the basic financial services you need. Telecoms companies saw no potential custom, the infrastructure was never built and many were left with fewer possibilities to communicate. But a mobile phone and its airtime you can buy with cash. You don’t need to be banked. Almost anyone can get a mobile – and they have. The financial system was actually a barrier to progress for the world’s poor, while cash was a facilitator for them.

Six billion people around the world will have a smartphone by 2020. They will have pretty much everything they need to participate in e-commerce – internet access, basically – except the financial inclusion. Which is why there will be a huge role to play in the future for new forms of digital cash – from Kenya’s M-Pesa to bitcoin – money you can use even if you are not financially included.

Cash has its uses for small transactions – a chocolate bar, a newspaper, a pint of milk – which, in the UK, are still uneconomic to process by other means. It will always be the fastest and most direct form of payment there is. I like to tip waiters, for example, in cash, knowing they will receive that money, without it being siphoned off by some unscrupulous employer. I also like to shop in markets, where I can buy directly from the producer knowing they will receive the money, without middle men shaving off their percentages.

It also has its uses for private transactions, for which there are many possible reasons, and by no means all of them illegal. Small businesses starting out need the cash economy. Poor people need the cash economy. The war on cash is a war on them.

If you listen to the scaremongering, you’d start to think that all cash users are either criminals, tax evaders or terrorists. Sure, some use cash to evade tax, but it’s paltry compared to the tax avoidance schemes Google and Facebook have employed. Google doesn’t use cash to avoid tax. It’s all done via legislative means.

Cash means total financial inclusion, a luxury the better-off take for granted. Without financial inclusion – and there will always be some who, for whatever reason, won’t have it – you are trapped in poverty. So beware the war on cash.


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朱孔达 | 未央团队未央编辑团队

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TA还没写个人介绍。。。

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