Book of the week: A world without cash

Cover of The War Against CashThe War Against Cash
By Ross Clark
Published by Harriman House £12.99
(Buy at Amazon)

Governments and experts keep telling us that the future is cashless. But would doing away with physical money really make our lives easier? Or is it intended to help firms and governments stick us with transaction fees, monitor our spending habits and even raid our savings in the event of another recession?

In The War Against Cash, Clark, a British journalist who writes for The Spectator and the Daily Mail, takes a decidedly sceptical view as he examines the arguments in favour of a world without bank notes and demolishes them one by one.

For example, it’s been widely reported that Sweden has seen a fall in the number of bank robberies and muggings after making it harder to use bank notes. That much is true – yet there has been an even bigger explosion in electronic crime. Mobile payments are supposedly transforming financial services in the developing word, but these inspirational tales ignore the fact that such services are expensive, and are not available to the large number of illiterate people in these countries.

Policymakers fret about the amount of tax revenue lost through cash-in-hand payments, despite the fact that this is a fraction of the money lost through electronic money laundering and corporate tax evasion. The result is a highly effective counterpoint to the ceaseless calls for yet more draconian measures to restrict the use of cash in everyday transactions.