The cashless society may only be three years away in Australia, but in Sweden, they’re on track to becoming the first.

The cashless society, for Australia and other nations, is a big plus for the governments. It means accounting for billions in lost tax revenue every year. Instead of paying cash-in-hand for a job, and pocketing the dollars if they require no receipt, by 2020, the option is likely to be defunct for Australian residents.

The Reserve Bank intends to introduce a new technology that will induce the Australian economy into a cashless one. The New Payment Platform (NPP) will allow instantaneous transfers of money between payer and payee, regardless of whether they’re members of different banks.

In fact, a bank’s branch number would no longer be required; only an email or phone number.

“[It] is going to make it super easy to transfer money instantaneously for free of any amount or kind,” Professor Richard Holden from the University of New South Wales said. The professor has been studying the rise of the digital economy and supports the NPP idea.

Although the NPP is favorable for the governments and offers an easy tap-and-go for customers, is a cashless society all that it’s cracked up to be?

A cashless society benefits the tax office and the government into the billions of dollars. Those billions of dollars are normally in the citizen’s pocket.

If you examine Greece’s economic crisis early last year, where its citizens could only withdraw up to sixty euro a day no matter the account balance, a cashless society would have given the government far greater control. For those who had the cash bundle hidden under the mattress, it gave them a buffer, albeit small. In a cashless society one wouldn’t have the luxury of a hundred twenties for the proverbial rainy day—they wouldn’t be granted such freedoms as savings anonymity.

A cashless society means the government can track every single cent in the country. It can track your spending habits, your savings, and where you last parked your car. It will know when you’re flush with money and when you’re broke—and when they call for your tax bill, they can freeze your accounts until you pay it. Worse case scenario, if a country goes broke, there will be no cash flow. No money for its citizens. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

But let’s look at the smaller picture:

Low income earners will be the hardest hit. The cash-in-hand worker is a lifesaver if you need that last-minute babysitter. What about tips for hospitality workers and cleaners? That works on the proviso of loose change in your pocket. Will you tap-and-go the tip too? Will it get to the waiter who served you? The cash-in-hand job is the buffer for those already struggling to buy groceries. The waiter’s 2 dollar tip will be taxed and they’ll be lucky to take home half.

The cash-in-hand worker is a lifesaver if you need that last-minute babysitter.

Smaller charities who rely on coin donations—they’ll be gone too.

But perhaps the hardest hit—in Australia, anyway—is the small business owner surcharged between 1.3 and 1.5 percent on every card swiped or tapped through an EFTPOS machine. According to one business owner, this equates to an additional $10,000 a year.

Will the Big Banks waiver that fee? No.

Photo: Small business owner Alex Dowd says they are charged a surcharge for every eftpos transcation. (ABC News: Laura Brierley Newton)

“Obviously there’s a push to go cashless, but at the end of the day, as a small business it costs us an additional $10,000 a year just to run card instead of cash,” Sydney bar owner Alex Dowd said and explained how they recover costs. “It’s either we pass on a surcharge or put up the prices.” 

In other words, the community will wear it, and generally, when things go up in price with no adjustments, spending goes down, hurting the business owner in the process.

A cashless society benefits the tax office and the government by billions of dollars. Those billions of dollars are normally in the citizen’s pocket. Alex Dowd is only one business owner. His bill is already $10,000.

Our every move can be tracked and shut down at the government’s whim by locking us out of our accounts. It also opens us to heightened cyber security issues and most importantly, it takes away what little freedom we have left to remain anonymous. Even for that weekend camping at the beach.

Yes, it’s convenient to tap-and-go. But what’s the real cost?

This article (Government Designs Cashless Society for Tax Dollars Only) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Aral Bereux and DNewsHQ.

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