Mises Wire

“The Better Than Cash Alliance”: Escalating the War on Cash

In recent years, national governments, especially in developed countries, have aggressively intensified their war on cash.  I have written a number of articles and blog posts (herehere, here, and here) charting the progress of this war and demonstrating that it is in fact a  despotic attack by the ruling elites on the personal privacy and liberties of their citizens.  

Now,  international organizations, tax-exempt billion-dollar foundations, and crony capitalist businesses and banks have banded  together in an unholy alliance with national governments and their central banks in the drive toward a “cashless society.”  

Initiated and funded by the left-leaning Ford Foundation in 2012, the alliance calls itself “The Better Than Cash Alliance.”  Even more ludicrous and misleading than its name is the statement of purpose that appears on its website according to which it “ provides expertise in the transition to digital payments to achieve the goals of empowering people and growing emerging economies.” In addition to the powerful Ford Foundation, the Alliance involves the following “partners”:  the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and (surprise, surprise!) the failed and bailed-out Citi as well as credit card companies Mastercard and Visa.

The United Nations is also involved, with the UN Capital Development Fund serving as the alliance’s secretariat. Among other  UN agencies participating are the World Food Program and the United Nations Development Program.  Other alliance members include several government agencies in developing countries and  a number of private aid agencies such as Catholic Relief Services. One of the key initiatives promoted by the Alliance is to induce governments of developing countries to deliver welfare electronically.  

Thus according to the Alliance’s website, “When using cash, shifting humanitarian aid and emergency relief to electronic payments creates lasting benefits for people, communities and economies and is more transparent and efficient.”   

Currently featured on the Alliance’s website is a blog entry entitled “Is Cash the Enemy of Financial Inclusion“ as well as a webinar recording  ”E-payments Deliver 15% Greater Costs Efficiencies in Kenya - Is This The Future of Food Assistance? plan “  

This initiative seems to be making headway in the developing world.  In 2012 Nigeria began phasing in a plan to go completely cashless.  

On July 1, 2014  the final phase of the plan was implemented.  According to one report, this plan—

seeking to slash the amount of physical currency in circulation —went into effect in another 30 states. Under the scheme, cash withdrawals from banks for individuals and businesses are being severely limited. Huge fees to use cash are also going into effect. Separately, the Nigerian central bank and commercial banks are also rolling out a massive new scheme to gather biometric data on customers. ‘We have launched the Bank Verification Number today, the timetable suggests that within 18 months, every customer would have been registered,’ said central bank boss Lamido Sanusi while unveiling the biometric registration plot. ‘This is a day that we would remember for many reasons, not for where we are but where we are likely to get from here. Nobody can steal this identity except he or she steals my fingers.’

Biometric tracking and data gathering by governments and its crony banks share the same objective as the war on cash: the abolition of financial and personal privacy.

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