Dangers of the Big Push by Visa Card for ‘Cashless Cities’ and Cashless Society

VISA issued a press release providing incentives for small business restaurants that “commit” to joining the push toward cashless society. Dangers of submitting to a cashless society include unadvertised general disadvantages that negate advertised advantages, extreme data collection that can be used against you or your interests whether you are doing anything wrong or not, and of course, the chance that you could be locked out of your own funds either accidentally or deliberately.

The press release states:

Today [July 12] Visa (NYSE:V) announced it is launching a major effort to encourage businesses to go cashless. Aiming to create a culture where cash is no longer king, the program will give merchants increased ability to accept all forms of global digital payments. Visa will be encouraging and helping merchants go cashless by using innovation to their advantage in order to stay competitively connected to their customers.

To encourage businesses to go cashless, Visa is announcing The Visa Cashless Challenge, with a call to action for small business restaurants, cafés or food truck owners to describe what cashless means for them, their employees and customers. Visa will be awarding up to $500,000 to 50 eligible US-based small business food service owners who commit to joining the 100% cashless quest.

For this one-time “award” program investment, VISA will reap benefits into the indefinite future.


VISA will be releasing a “study,” but a date of release has not been set beyond “later this year.”

Visa recently conducted a study that found that if businesses in 100 cities transitioned from cash to digital, their cities stand to experience net benefits of $312 billion per year. According to this study, in New York City alone, businesses could generate an additional $6.8 billion in revenue and save more than 186 million hours in labor, by making greater use of digital payments. This amounts to more than $5 billion annual costs savings for businesses in New York.

On the heels of the VISA announcement, Vida Fitness in Washington DC declared that it “will no longer accept cash” as of August 1. A Twitter meme includes a bullet list of benefits.


While the unreleased VISA study touts that “businesses could generate an additional $6.8 billion in revenue,” it does not say where the money will come from. The money will come from cutting costs. The costs that will be cut are those of the workers.

The push toward cashless society and cashless ‘cities’ also has disadvantages, which are not being covered well. Take the Vida meme above:

For some additional “speed,” the consumer has to add a fingerprint file to a database which, of course, may be used for other proprietary purposes or even hacked.

While “coins are dirty,” so is just about everything else.

While it might be possible in the short run for staff to spend time “improving your member experience,” the “free market” provides for something entirely different for the long run. Once one business takes advantage of this automation to cut jobs, all businesses will be forced to lay people off to compete with the others. Dwindling jobs reduce demand and harm most everybody.

The only Vida benefit left is the bureaucratic tie to “racking up more points.”


Extreme information collection is dangerous to everyone. Both business and government misuse data.

As we all know, credit card transactions are maintained in giant databases that are subject to transfer and hacking. Such collections make it not only possible, but certain that large data collection will be used secretly to make monumental decisions about you. If the credit card bureaus are any example, there is no guarantee that these databases will be accurate.

Citizens may be denied employment, insurance, or even goods and services based upon aspects of people’s identities, conditions, beliefs, actions or political views — because we know these things happen. With massive databases, such discrimination can and will be applied to any or all aspects of each human and perhaps automatically.

With so much consolidation and deregulation going on, there is nothing to stop big data holders from governing nearly every aspect of our lives without even letting us know. We won’t even know if the information is accurate.

Our only recourse would be to drop out of activities that may be related to our views. In other words, we would have to give up our rights under the Constitution out of fear of businesses subverting our opportunities.

Government and government officials can and will use information too, of course.


This section is for those of you who believe you are immune from adverse consequences because you are not doing anything wrong or secret. In fact, you are not protected from adversity no matter how traditional and picture perfect your behavior or condition is.

Activism is not only beneficial, but also necessary, to change or improve society. Whether you personally participate or not, others make the effort. Not all of those people are “clean” in the eyes of the powerful. Some may even be quite “dirty.” By exposing some unrelated personal aspect of activists, the people with full access to these databases may undermine your cause.

By extension, some people won’t even bother to participate in activism out of fear of being exposed for something embarrassing. This is often called the “chilling effect,” and the unwillingness of these people to join may harm you.

Although power generally opposes change and supports the current paradigm, there is no guarantee that some particular viewpoint will be supported. Your view, no matter how clean and pure you believe it is, may not seem so wonderful to powerful people — and they can use it against you without notice or appeal, right or wrong.


A computer based or electronic system may be down or hacked — especially in times of great need. You may be locked out of your own money — either through happenstance or deliberately.


VISA is not the only one to push for electronic data. To make matters less conducive to privacy, some banks now charge monthly fees for printed bank statements. In the case of TD Bank, fees began suddenly with no advance warning and they cannot be waived. Here is the original notice.

Either you pay the money or you have to expose your data to the risk of online transactions.