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Preparing For The Cashless Transition

By James Wesley Rawles | July 6, 2017

Most western nations will soon adopt digital currency. Already, more than 80% of day-to-day transactions in the First World are settled with debit cards, credit cards, PayPal, or checks. In Europe, the use of the EC card—a sort of interbank debit card—has become ubiquitous. Going “cashless” is the Big Trend.

With the now widespread use of smart phones, payment for many small transactions is as simple as just waving a phone at the checkout counter. (This is a so-called “contactless” or “mobile wallet” purchase.) Mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, are catching on rapidly. So rapidly, in fact, that some urbanites no longer carry any cash. At many stores, kiosks, and even restaurants this will likely become obligatory in the next few years. No smartphone? Sorry, “No soup for you!”

From Voluntary to Mandatory

Whether it takes five years or just a year, the end of cash—or at least cash as we know it–is coming. The transition from the convenience of electronic commerce to the requirement for electronic commerce will be a Sea Change event. For those of us who live in remote areas beyond cell phone coverage, this change will be a troublesome hindrance. Other than writing checks, how will we be able to buy and sell things, especially with other private parties?

But for all Americans, going cashless will remove the last bastion of our privacy. Paying in cash provides anonymity for purchases. Adopting electronic-only currency will be a big change. Every transaction will be positively tallied and tracked for both the seller and the buyer.

Ominously, the push for going digital is coming just as hacking and identity theft is reaching pandemic proportions. The prospect of being forced to put your liquid net worth into digital bucks and then seeing them wiped out is quite frightening.

The Digital Currency, Around the World

There is already a war on cash in progress. And this isn’t just something in the realm of foreign headlines. There is a war on cash here in the United States. And a rapidly-growing number of countries are nearly ready to switch to digital currencies. Here is a brief summary:


Sweden is leading the way. It was recently reported that many churches in Sweden now use an “App” for accepting tithes and offerings instead of cash.


Norway is on a similar trajectory. In Norway, only about 5% of retail transactions are now paid for in cash. Some recent reports have mentioned that Norway may drop the use of folding money and coins as soon as 2019.


In France the cashless move has been slower than in Scandinavia but still relatively rapid. In addition to now widespread use of cash cards and debit cards, contactless devices and digital wallets (such as mPOS) are catching on.


Almost one-third of Denmark’s populace uses the cellphone app MobilePay for their transactions. The Danish government has established the goal of going cashless no later than the year 2030.

Germany (Not!)

Of the western European nations, only Germany seem to be bucking the trend. There, cash is still king.


In Japan, like Germany, there is considerable resistance to going cashless. Those of the younger generation in the big cities are switching to cash cards and various contactless systems. But the majority of these systems are pre-paid.


In Australia’s major cities, digital wallets are now all the rage.

Citibank has announced that it was eliminating cash transactions at some of its Australian bank branches. There are already “no cash” bank branches in many U.S. cities, and I expect this trend to accelerate. High crime areas will probably be first.

The Indian Experience

India’s recent experience is particularly instructive. In 2016, the 500 and 1,000 Ruppee notes were demonetized. The stated reason was to stop counterfeiting, but the real goals were control and tax revenue. After the deadline, 500 and 1,000 Ruppee notes became worthless. Anyone holding them in effect got a 100% tax. This was a devastating bureaucratic blow, since 86% of India’s circulating currency was in those denominations. Not stopping there, the Indian government now plans to fully ban large transactions.

For some more detailed information about India’s war on cash, see the InfoGalactic article.

Welcome to the Cashless Fishbowl

The most dreaded implication of going cashless is transparency. There will no longer be any “private” transactions. We’ll all be swimming in the same fishbowl. This transparency is a tax collector’s dream come true. It could allow deeper and broader taxes. Simple set-rate sales taxes could become passé. Instead, taxing authorities could use variable transactional taxes levied as a tool of social engineering.

Specific “sin taxes” could be levied on everything from sugary drinks to alcohol, ammunition, and edged weapon purchases. It is noteworthy that point of purchases transactions are now largely keyed to Universal Product Codes (UPCs). The same cash register that itemizes your purchases also debits your payment card. So it is a fairly simple incremental step to pick out bureaucratically-perceived “sin” UPCs and tax them at various rates. The excuse given will of course be “societal costs”. (Such as higher cost for medical care.)

Grounds for Investigation

What else will the mandatory use of digital currency bring? Any controversial (but ostensibly legal) purchases might trigger investigations by law enforcement agencies. These “no-no” items could include: precursor chemicals, ANFO fertilizer, Tannerite (exploding rifle targets), greenhouse grow lights, hydroponics equipment, large inline fuel filters (which are dual use as “solvent traps”), radar detectors, voice scramblers, encryption software, bulk quantities of foods, controversial books, body armor, night vision equipment, fighting knives, pyrotechnics, some medical items, precious metals, colored gemstones, D-Con rat poison, colored contact lenses, and many other items. Just by living as a well-prepared individual, you would probably trigger multiple investigations at various levels of government. This will be a very uncomfortable fishbowl, indeed!

All of the requisite technologies for the digital currency transition are in place. Now it is just a matter of when individual nations (and blocs of nations) decide to make the switch. Again, smart phones are becoming ubiquitous. That is the key enabling technology. Vending machine makers have already produced a new generation of machines. They are already equipped with credit and debit card readers, eliminating the need for currency and coins. Keeping bank accounts with direct deposit are mandatory for military service members and virtually everyone on the Federal payroll. (That is a huge legion, just by itself.) So the question is no longer “if” but “when”.

Ready, Set, Barter!

It is high time to get ready for the transition to e-currency. Hedging into precious metals is an obvious choice. I posit that even if transactions with metals are outright banned, they will still be widespread. Why? The advent of transparent markets breeds opaque markets. Making transactions in silver and gold will probably become a misdemeanor crime. (And perhaps even a felony, depending on the amount transacted.) But if anything, this criminalization will make holding silver and gold coins more popular than ever.

Obviously, in order to be ready to transact in silver and gold you will need to have those coins (ideally, before the cashless transition). If you already hold some real money, then it is simply a matter of adjusting your holdings into small, barterable increments. So, for example, if you presently own some 1-ounce gold coins, then you should consider trading some of those into either silver coins or at least into 1/10th ounce gold coins. (Just be forewarned that the latter carry a substantial seller’s premium. You will probably not be “trading straight across”, ounce for ounce.)

Already Holding Silver?

But what if you already have some silver? If you have any large ingots (10-ounce, 100-ounce, or larger commercial ingots), then you should consider trading most or all of those into either 1-ounce silver rounds, or better yet into pre-1965 U.S. silver dimes or quarters. (Small increments make for smooth and easy transactions.)

It would also be wise to make any purchases of controversial or dual-use items before the advent of fully-tracked digital commerce. And now is the time to round out your personal library with books on arcane subjects that could raise eyebrows. It is also wise to put together a reference library to peg the relative value of coins, guns, pocket and wrist watches, and various collectibles. Knowledge is power!

Ballistic Wampum

Many years ago, Colonel Jeff Cooper coined the term Ballistic Wampum to describe the use of ammunition for barter. The suitability of common caliber ammunition in this role is self evident. Because it has most of the key attributes of a barter good, I consider ammo co-equal to silver coins. What are these attributes? Durability. Ease of Recognition. Fungibility. Divisibility. Practicality. Near Universal Appeal. Oh yes, and: Cool Factor. In a future barter economy, all the Cool Kids will be swapping Ballistic Wampum.

Gain Key Bartering Skills

This is also a good time to get accustomed to bartering. If you are inexperienced with barter, then be advised that there is a learning curve. Take the time to read this SurvivalBlog article: The Savvy Barterer–References, Skills, and Tools for TEOTWAWKI Barter.

Many communities host farmers markets, community garage sales, and flea markets. They are great places to learn how to barter. Also get accustomed to traveling to attend coin shows, gun shows, and Ham radio swap meets. The experience that you gain in bartering there will prove itself invaluable. (Once digital currency is instituted and a good portion of legitimate private commerce is driven underground, barter skills will be tremendously more important than they are today.)

Take the time to research and then join barter and/or local currency networks. To start, do your homework with web searches on phrases like these:

“Alternative Currency”
“Local Currency”
“Ithaca Hours”
“Barter Club”
“Barter Network”

Long Term Risks of a Cashless Economy

The long term risks of a society under a digital currency regime are difficult to fully predict. There is, of course, the aforementioned loss of privacy– what I call “The Fishbowl Effect”. But just as scary is the recognition of the fact that a universal digital currency at the national or even multinational level opens the doors to monetary mischief. What is to stop a government from grossly inflating a digi-currency and then simply dropping a zero? That is something difficult to accomplish with paper currencies and coinage, but it could be done in the blink of an eye with an electronic currency.

There are probably many other risks that I haven’t considered. But suffice it to say, adopting digital currency will be like opening Pandora’s Box. Brace yourselves, folks, and hedge!

What About Bitcoin?

The topic of Bitcoin deserves an essay of its own. I’ll suffice here with a few notes:

First, remember that just like any other currency its value is a perception. Whether you are looking at a Federal Reserve Note, a one-ounce silver trade dollar, or a Bitcoin, its value (purchasing power) must be agreed to by both the buyer and the seller. No agreement, no sale.
In recent years, the value of Bitcoin in relation to paper currency has been all over the map, but the general trend is upward.
Be sure to keep at least three copies of your Bitcoin “wallet” (wallet.dat) file, and hide them well in separate places.
Your passphrase should be long, memorable, and unique.

Most of all, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. As I recently mentioned in a SurvivalBlog column, you should beware of putting too much of your wealth into Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. When times get hard, governments get grabby. And of course Bitcoins stored by third party exchange services are vulnerable to hacking. For more information on Bitcoin, see this over at Wired: Bitcoin Has Come Roaring Back—But So Have the Risks.

In closing, we should anticipate the advent of digital currency with a wary eye. Plan ahead, and you will be ready to cope and even profit. But if you simply go on with your day-to-day life and get caught unaware by the change, then it could be costly to both your net worth and to your personal freedom.

Because this has been just a brief summary, I look forward to the Reader Comments to this article. They should be quite illuminating! – JWR

"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15962 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
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Scandinavia continues its war on cash:

First they came for the inmates' cash. . . .

Apparently, the prevarications and base tactics of anti-cash fanatics know no bounds. In an announcement in May that garnered very little mainstream press coverage, the Danish government stated its intention to ban cash from its largest prisons. The ostensible reason, according to Justice Minister Soeren Pape Poulsen, is that "there is a risk that people in criminal circles exploit their friends' incarceration to hide money." Forcing inmates to pay for purchases electronically will make it "easier to follow the money flow in and out." So let's get this straight. The Danish government actually believes that it is more likely that inmates' unincarcerated cronies will show up en masse and hand over wads of krone to stash in a government prison than that the inmates will figure out a way to use the electronic payments devices to contact and scheme with these cronies to commit more crimes. Of course government officials do not believe this nonsense. The real point of the measure is to reinforce the link between cash and criminality in the public mind so that citizens are more amenable when the day comes that their own cash is seized by government.

Onward and upward,

Posts: 18046 | From: Tulsa | Registered: Jan 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator

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A Cashless Society and the Implication for Preppers

by Joe I. (aka village idiot)

For the past few years, the US Government has been trying, through fits and starts, to implement a policy whereby all its payments are made electronically into bank accounts or onto electronic debit cards. The Government recently announced that Social Security payments would all be either electronic entries in bank accounts or EBTcards by sometime in 2013. Payments to retirees are already electronic entries for the most part, and VA checks and other governmental payments will follow suit.

All these actions have supposedly taken place in an effort to save money, yet the savings are minuscule compared to overall spending, and it would take a great leap of faith for one to believe the government is in any way concerned about cutting spending. All evidence points to the contrary, so budget savings are likely a cover for the real reason behind these measures. The private sector has also had a hand in the push for the cashless society, and with the introduction of credit and debit cards have made great strides in the elimination of cash.

For banks and other financial institutions, the less cash they have to handle, the more profit they make. It takes less personnel, less space, and it is easier to handle electronic transactions as opposed to counting, distributing and storing cash. Almost all transfers of funds between financial institutions are already electronic.

There is less and less physical cash circulating in the economy, and the trend is headed toward zero. As preppers, we should be aware of what is happening, and what the implications will be when and if our society becomes basically cashless. Identity theft, fraud, and hacking are already costing society hundreds of billions of dollars, and they will continue to grow in a cashless environment.

Law enforcement will be adjusting resources to deal with these issues, and less money and personnel will be allocated to fight traditional crimes of violence such as assault, burglary, and theft. There will be choices for us to make if we wish to remain viable and independent, and if we wish to maintain our privacy.

I do suggest that people who receive retirement or assistance from the government get the checks delivered to their home if they qualify. Usually, handicapped and sick people can get checks rather than debit cards if they can show a hardship. Naturally, there are forms to be filled out, but it might be worth a try.


One of the major problems for preppers in a cashless society will be remaining anonymous and preserving operations security. And not in a military sense of the word, but just day-to-day living and working. In a cashless society, every single transaction of life will be recorded on a computer server somewhere.

What and where you buy food, water, supplies, and all the accoutrements of life will be recorded, and it is very likely that there will be computer programs and algorithms that will automatically flag people who buy certain things or combinations of things that are not approved by a new breed of bureaucrat acting on a bevy of new regulations.

Certain foods, additives, beverages, antiseptics, medicines, and possibly the quantities purchased could be used to identify behaviors and traits in an effort to identify people who might be preppers. For instance, perhaps large purchases of garden seed would set off an alarm somewhere.

II. Freedom of movement

It will be impossible to move around the country without leaving an electronic trail, even if one doesn’t want to. Purchasing gasoline, buying plane or train tickets, restaurant and hotel transactions, and all aspects of travel will leave a trail easy to follow. Of course, travel alone probably wouldn’t have any implications for preppers.

But visits to certain areas will likely get one scrutinized, depending on whether there is tax havens in places one travels, such as certain parts of the Caribbean, or whether one visits some destinations in Latin America or Asia.

Of course, the average prepper won’t have to worry about tax havens and international travel, but some preppers will fall in this category. I don’t want to be too paranoid here, but I do want us as preppers to think about the long-term trends that are now developing and the new regulations being implemented by our government, such as the seizure of passports if one owes back taxes.

III. Healthcare

Another dangerous trend now occurring is the government takeover of healthcare. For years, the payment of insurance, fees and other costs of healthcare have moved more and more into the electronic arena and away from cash. Hospitals and other medical facilities have been in the process of putting patient records on computers for years, and now the government is forcing doctors to make patient’s records into electronic files.

It’s likely that one won’t be able to receive medical care in the near future by paying cash. And records will be made of every visit to the ER, every visit to the doctor, every visit that has anything to do with medical care, with all these records available for government regulators to see. Government programs such as Medicaid and medicare are taking more and more of the overall budget, and sooner or later rationing will have to take place.

The prepper’s strategy here will be to store certain medicines such as antibiotics and other critical drugs, but also to learn remedies that were successful in the past but have been lost in the Age of Modern Medicine. There are numerous books on the subject, and a google search will reveal thousands of possibilities. The Doctor’s Book on Home Remedies is one I like, but do the research.

People who know and practice home remedies will be in great demand in a cashless society. And make friends with a doctor, if possible. I have a personal friend who is a GP, and he is a prepper, although he doesn’t advertise that fact. And I have a nephew in medical school, a niece who is a radiologist and her husband is a nurse.

Given these facts what is a prepper to do? Here are some suggestions that will help, and hopefully allow a prepper to prosper, in no particular order.

A. Gold, silver, and junk silver coins.

A good strategy is to have a small amount of 1/10 oz. gold coins for wealth protection. One can also purchase 1 oz. silver eagles or maple leafs as both are well-recognized in No. America. The most important silver purchase if one lives in the United States are 90% silver coins that were issued before 1965. They are commonly called junk silver. The dimes are the most convenient, but quarter and half-dollars are useful as well.

Let me say that no one should buy any precious metals until they have their other preps in line. And remember, a prepper uses precious metals for insurance and protection, not wealth building. Precious metals are volatile, and trading in and out of them is best left to the experts. Always take delivery of any precious metals you buy. If you don’t have them in your possession, you don’t own them. Most companies have the option to pay you dollars in lieu of the metals if they so desire.

B. Bartering

A great way for preppers to prosper is to build up bartering networks. There is an art to bartering, and one gets better at it if practiced. I go to gun shows quite often and enjoy trying to trade and barter for ammo and supplies. Other places to barter are farmer’s markets and small businesses. Any small business that is locally owned should be on your radar as a barter opportunity.

C. Gardening and animal husbandry

A no-brainer, as raising food will mean one doesn’t have to get it elsewhere. Food security will be the most important aspect of life for preppers. Food storage will last for whatever time period one has prepared, but for the long-term only gardening and animal husbandry will provide a secure source of food. Raising chickens for meat and eggs is probably the most efficient use of resources, but goats for milk and meat pay big dividends as well.

D. Water

Of course, water for survival both for animals and humans is a must. A local, reliable water source is the single most important thing a prepper can have. It can come from a well, pond, creek, spring, lake, reservoir, or river, but the water must be potable. One has to have filters, chemicals or boiling available to them for purifying water, or a combination of the three. Water must be assumed contaminated unless it has been tested or has been consumed from a well for a lengthy period of time. Store plenty of water, but know that one can’t store enough water to last long-term.

E. Hunting, fishing and gathering.

There is no reason that preppers shouldn’t be taking advantage of hunting and fishing opportunities. Most states have generous bag limits for game and fish, so harvesting game that is plentiful, lean and healthier for you is a great strategy.

Fishing can also provide healthy protein, and with little expense one can store fish, either by freezing, smoking or pickling. Another strategy is gathering. Fruits, nuts and berries are mostly bought in grocery stores these days, yet in the past most people planted fruit and nut trees. They grow wild in many places now, so looking for old home places and cruising public lands can help one locate fruits and nuts.

Take a drive in a state or national park or preserve in the spring, and it is easy to identify the trees that are in bloom. Mark them for future harvest. It is not ethical to gather fruit and nuts without permission on private land, but most people would rather see someone use a product rather than see it go to waste. So ask, and give some to the landowner or manager of the property. You will not be disappointed.

F. Networking

Right now is the time to get to know people in your community who could be of assistance in hard times. Get to know your doctor or dentist, make friends with the local farmers at the farmer’s market. Support these farmers if they grow something you don’t, or if you need extra.

Even if it costs a little more, spend a little extra and help the local farmer. Support people who grow organic, or use heirloom seeds for their crops. Shop and get your prescription drugs from a local pharmacist, not Wal-Mart or Walgreens.

Think local first, and if you can get it locally, do it. Make it a habit to visit with older people in your community, either by going to nursing homes or elder centers. Just about every city or small town has these facilities.

The elderly are a wealth of information on farming, ranching, gardening, sewing, soap-making, candle-making and many other activities that were common years ago. Seek out that information. You might just make a new friend as well.

G. Miscellaneous

I would just like to finish with a little advice. Don’t give the appearance of wealth, and don’t stand out. Be humble, be friendly, be helpful, and be a part of your community. No man (or woman) is an island. No one person will thrive in the new economy, but a collection of like-minded individuals can make life decent and livable, and survivable.

[ 07-11-2017, 09:23 PM: Message edited by: ConSigCor ]

"The time for war has not yet come, but it will come and that soon, and when it does come, my advice is to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." Gen. T.J. Jackson, March 1861

Posts: 15962 | From: A 059 Btn 16 FF MSC | Registered: Oct 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator

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