The coinage towards extinction

  What do you have in your wallet? In March of the previous year, I stuffed a bank card into my pocket and have hardly taken it out since. For this article, I rummaged through my wallet: a £5 bill that I had accidentally torn a year ago, folded into a tiny piece. “The £20 I got at the end of the day before the epidemic.” “For more than a year, I only have that one £10 in my bag.” So say my friends.
  In 2020, cash payments are down by 35% in the UK, with 5/6 of all transactions completed via cashless payments. 2019, Cash for Life estimates that the proportion of cash payments in the UK will fall to 1 in 10 within a decade. The new crown epidemic has greatly accelerated this process and will soon be able to reach this ratio.” In April 2021, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunaker announced the creation of a joint Treasury-Bank of England task force to explore the prospect of a Bank of England e-money, aimed at providing a secure official digital currency to replace Bitcoin.

  Is this the end of dirty money? Today, the New Crown virus has deepened our suspicion of cash, with warnings of the risk of contact contagion giving physical currency a bad name. The government is calling on retailers to use contactless payment methods. Mobile payments are also so convenient for consumers. Why struggle to find an unsanitary ATM when you can use your phone for everything?
  We know that money is just a concept. The satirical read The Onion News writes, “America has finally realized that the dollar is nothing more than a shared illusionary symbol.” If this illusory entity were to disappear, would it have an impact? The answer in Sweden is no. Sweden is essentially cashless and expects to reach all-electronic transactions by 2023. One of my Swedish friends says she doesn’t even know what Sweden’s new currency will look like. “Cash doesn’t work.” Another Swedish friend said even homeless people begging for money would pull out their smartphones to request a transfer.
| The Hidden Dangers of Spending

  But even in Sweden, there is still unease, and the 2019 Cash Uprising campaign warns that a cashless society lurks with the potential for cybersecurity and personal information security, as well as payment woes in the most extreme cases. “In an apocalyptic anarchy, isn’t cash our last resort to save our lives?” So asks Gottfried Leibrandt, co-author of Payments: How the Way We Pay Has Changed Everything.
  ”Banks are not infallible when it comes to digital,” said Gareth Shaw, director of funding at the U.K. consumer advocacy group “Which One?” ‘s head of funding, Gareth Shaw, said, “Cash is the backstop, the bulwark in the face of many surprises.” That’s reflected in the Bank of England’s data, too. The data show that at the start of the first blockade, there was a 10 percent increase in the amount of paper money in circulation. We may not use cash every day, but some of us still have it on hand just in case.
  Cash is always important, and there is no perfect substitute for it. Everyone, without a bank account, fixed address, health insurance card number and smartphone can use cash. It’s also easily identifiable, which greatly helps visually impaired consumers, for whom, after all, reading the rapidly flashing numbers on an electronic screen can be difficult. Shaw said, “There’s a significant portion of consumers who rely on cash.” He said the Freedom to Pay campaign is about trying to prevent Britain from becoming an insecure nation of cashless consumers. 8 million Britons are struggling in a cashless society, with low-income groups often more reliant on cash, but cruelly, according to research by the University of Bristol, free ATMs are disappearing in poorer areas at a much faster rate than in wealthier ones. at a much greater rate than in wealthier areas.
  Cash payments also provide a deeper understanding of the pain of “chopping”. We often forget to spend money on in-app purchases and subscription services, but we’re cautious when it comes to pulling money out of our wallets. Cash is the cornerstone of budgeting, says Shaw: “The key advice we get when we talk to consumers who are in debt is to cut up their credit cards and start spending in cash.”
  Leibrandt believes these issues can be addressed, saying, “Apps will provide better solutions to these problems.” They can adjust limits and optimize payments for consumers who need help with their budgets. In the U.K., the Street Performers program is piloting a peer-to-peer payment model for street performers, and the Glasgow Street Improvement project offers a contactless payment alternative for homeless people in need.
  Natasha Tran, another co-author of Payments, is less optimistic, saying, “There are still many social issues that need to be addressed before cash payments disappear completely, and anonymous payments are one of them.” Shaw also emphasizes this point: “Cash is anonymous. It’s true that criminals take full advantage of it, but there are benefits for you. Do you really want every single purchase to appear on your bank statement?” It’s not a trivial matter of covering up your embarrassing take-out habits; for many victims who have experienced domestic violence, anonymous cash spending means safety.
| Human Treasures |

  If we allow cash to die out, we will lose more than just anonymous security. Without cash, brick-and-mortar stores would also be depressed. Historian Graham Sulte says, “The appearance and organization of stores is based in large part on patterns of transactions. People’s consumer memories are determined less by the items they buy than by the payment process.” Brick-and-mortar stores offer not just goods, but a realm of human interaction, the experiential process of paying for goods and putting them in nice bags. The new crown epidemic has dealt a fatal blow to cash payments, but in Sulte’s view, it has instead inspired a desire to shop physically. It’s not about the payment itself; it’s about the human experience of the physical store that people love.
  The demise of coins also means that we will lose a rich cultural asset. The British Museum’s coin gallery has a collection of coins from the Peacock Dynasty around 200 B.C. We know history through these collections. The coins that are traded every day are also the perfect vehicle for political messages: the Roman emperors minted coins to highlight the idea of empire; Soviet Russia called for the unity of the world’s proletariat, so the surface of a 1920 ruble coin depicts the bright future of the Bolsheviks – a factory bathed in sunlight. Even in contemporary times, the figures we print on our banknotes display Britain’s national identity. For example, the new pound with Alan Turing on it is the nation’s recognition of his outstanding contribution and the injustice he suffered.
  Money is also integral to literary creation: in Les Miserables, Jean Valjean cannot resist the temptation to step on a 40-sous coin that a young boy drops on the floor; in Batman: The Dark Knight, the Joker playfully burns dollars. “Cash is a ‘live bullet’, but credit cards are not.” The Guardian film critic Peter Shaw focused on the film’s classic imagery of “looking for a bag of money,” which “raises two contradictory and tense emotions: one is ‘Oh my God, I have money,’ because cash can be transferred at will. One is ‘Oh my God, I’m rich,’ because cash can be transferred at will, which credit cards can’t do; but then there’s the thought of ‘Someone is trying to collect this money and I’m going to die because of it.'”
  You don’t have to be a professional numismatist to visualize the beauty of money. When I visited my aunt, who lived in Ireland in the 1980s, I collected many lovely Irish coins with salmon, horses and deer engraved on them. My father’s desk drawer was stuffed with soft memories from a distant land, strange banknotes adorned with exotic people and flowers and birds, conjuring up a dreamy wonderland. “Tangible relics from other worlds,” a friend of mine said of her collection of foreign coin jars. As time passes and geography changes, the transmission effect of coins comes into play. Imagine how many hands a coin will pass through. An Irish friend of mine, a scholar and poet, brought her family’s ancestral Edwardian coins to class when she taught Virginia Woolf’s “The Three Guineas,” saying, “It gives the students a touch of the past.”
  Even the most mundane coins are relevant to family life: gifts from parents or grandparents, gifts at communion or bar mitzvahs, return gifts left under the pillow by the tooth fairy …… I laugh as I record these coin-related family anecdotes: grandfathers tucking small folded bills into their babies’ palms or fumbling a pound coin from behind their ears in a trick A father sends his daughter a plain 10-franc bill that says “I met Mitterrand and he asked me to give it to you”; my father’s nominal “taxi” fare of 20 pounds sustains me through my wretched twenties. The envelope was quietly pushed across the table, the banknotes slipped into my pocket, and the cash was a sign of unspoken love.
  But it was all coming to an end. To my teenage son, pocket money is a number on a screen, not a pile of coins. The emotional weight of a monetary gift fades as it becomes an electronic transfer. My child received a £20 bill from a family friend, which he blankly scanned before returning it and requesting a transfer. I, on the other hand, saw the purple coin with a twist and treasured it in my wallet, just in case.

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