How the cashless lobby exploits COVID-19 fears

calendar iconMay 12, 2020

Coronavirus fears are being shamelessly exploited by anti-cash campaigners with sinister motivations, argues Ross Clark in an article titled, "The cashless lobby is cashing in on the COVID-19 crisis".

The journalist and author of "War on Cash: The Plot To Empty Your Wallet And Own Your Financial Future – And Why You Must Fight It" compares the cashless lobby to scammers in a recent article for The Spectator. Clark accuses those who have advised the public to avoid cash as a coronavirus preventative measure of disgraceful fear mongering.

Indeed, medical experts world over have explained that there is no reason to fear cash and people can use it as usual. Chiefly, Clark points the finger at the central banks, card conglomerates and FinTech investors taking advantage of public anxiety to promote their payment services. It is the most vulnerable who would pay the price, the elderly, the poor, the unbanked and those who simply prefer the convenience of cash.

"Hardly had the coronavirus outbreak begun in January than my email inbox began to fill up with press releases claiming that the contagion was being spread by banknotes and coins — coming, er, from businesses with a vested interest in cashless payments."
"Ross ClarkJournalist and AuthorThe Spectator (Apr 15, 2020)

It's a morbid cliché now, that lies spread faster than any virus, but in this case, it couldn't be more on point. In January alone, BuzzFeed came across so much fabricated corona content it devoted a running list article on coronavirus scams. In February, the Washington Post published an article warning of “insidious confusion”, in other words, how "disinformation about coronavirus is mutating and spreading faster than the outbreak itself".

In March, reports that the World Health Organization was advising the public to avoid banknotes and coins to stop the spread of the virus coronavirus spread across the internet like wildfire, inspiring cash bans at storefront and national levels. The WHO responded with a press release clarifying that they were misrepresented and that cash is NOT responsible for the spread of coronavirus. Experts in the fields of infection, viruses and cash production have pointed out that singling out cash is random, raising red flags as to the motivations behind such rumors.

From the Spectator (Apr 15, 2020)

"When western consumers proved reluctant to give up cash, the cashless lobby targeted the developing world instead, setting up a lobbying group called the Better Than Cash Alliance, funded by the payments industry and the UN Capital Development Fund. In one of its initiatives, workers at 21 clothes factories in Bangladesh were paid their wages exclusively through cell phone apps. Many were illiterate, and ended up being ripped off by agents who charged high commission to convert their mobile money into cash."

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"The reason we are forever being bombarded by propaganda advocating a cashless society is that vast sums have been invested in the FinTech industry— $19 billion in 2016 alone — in the expectation of a handsome return."
"Ross ClarkJournalist and AuthorThe Spectator (Apr 15, 2020)

Interestingly, demand for cash prevails despite cashless propaganda efforts. The European Central Bank noted one week which saw a "huge increase" in cash use for coronavirus preparation shopping. The Bank of International Settlements published figures on spikes in online searches about cash and corona, finding that there has never been so much concern for the health of this universal payment form.

Last Updated: May 13, 2020

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