Sending $20.00 and paying $23.42. What ever happened to micropayments? 17% fees!


When we were in Sweden in 2018 we saw many shops that refused cash. I don’t think we ever got any cash in two weeks. Every single transaction benefitted the credit card company and the credit card issuer. You might argue that cash also costs money: handling it, counting it, guarding it, escorting it, losing it, all of it costs money. The difference is the digitalization of credit card fees. The cost of cash is distributed, decentralized. The cost of credit cards is concentrated, monopolized.

A cashless society also means that you are required to have a bank account and a credit score. Yay for surveillance. Yay for the rich. Who cares about the poor. ☹️

A cashless society is also vulnerable: if the electronic infrastructure breaks down, all trade stops. A break down of the power grid, of the credit card servers, of the Internet: all of these nodes are suddenly even more critical than before, even juicer targets for sabotage, for cyber attacks. Who is going to keep us safe? Placing all our eggs into a very small number of baskets is the opposite of resilience. It makes us vulnerable. It’s a strategic blunder.

@kensanata I very vividly remember sitting in a college classroom in 1982. I was a 16-year-old freshman. It was a business class, and the professor was a young-ish guy named Pete Doukas. He grabbed the chalk and wrote "BLIPS" on the board and underlined it, then turned around and looked at us. "In the future", he said, "all cash will be replaced by computer blips." We all laughed. No way, impossible. Computers are too unreliable. What happens when they go down, is all business going to just stop? What if they have bugs or the computer operator makes a mistake? Nobody is going to trust computers with their money. That's ridiculous. The professsor just stood there and smirked, while we scoffed. "You'll see," he said.

You can look at Sweden for an example of cashless gone too far. It's a bit of a nightmare when I visit my home country. For me it's worse because I'm actually Swedish but don't have access to their payment system.

@loke @kensanata "Cashless" has never anywhere been about avoiding the costs of using cash. It's also never been just about avoiding the worst evils that benefit from money laundering, like human trafficking, corruption, and murder-for-hire. It has always and everywhere been about total control of society and the ability to "skim" as much as the powers that be desire from every transaction. It is everywhere and always a totalitarian, kleptocratic endeavor.

@loke Exactly. These toots started brewing when I was in Sweden in 2018.

@kensanata In fact, I'm hesitant to even visit Sweden now because of the hassle with payment.

@loke @kensanata I am pretty sure there will be a solution soon. I personally embrace the cashless economy. The Swish app is just marvelous... Even if I forgot to take out cash I can still get that coffee out in the bush.

If money doesn't work there will always emerge something else. Like cigarettes in prison.

Money as such has always been a convenience (and tracker) from the start. You don't have to drag a cow with you to day when you want to grocery shop.

@shellkr @loke @kensanata They banned smoking in federal prisons so now stamps are the new currency. Barter is infinitely flexible.

@trebach @loke @kensanata It is.. and as long you have some scarcity it will exist. Only true abundance can make it obsolete.

@kensanata I get what you mean, but I would argue a true break down of the power grid will halt a cash society just the same. No ATM but also no bank will give you money without power. Cash is backed by the same computers that back your cards.

@splitbrain With cash, I can at least imagine going to the market and making some bread. I mean, I'm hoping they're going to restore the power after a few days or a week. In that week, how will we buy food? You think the shops won't open? Perhaps you are right. I still think we will have more options. Imagine a slight deterioration, power failing for some hours every day. During those hours, cash will allow commerce to continue, I think.

@kensanata To a degree this is true, but cash as well can be devalued by currency manipulation and inflation that banks do, so it’s still not that much decentralized in the end.

@mareklach Sure, but to my layman's eyes it seems that the effort required for a hostile act is not the same. We can always imagine blunders and strategic mistakes, of course. But in terms of defence, currency manipulations by single actors are much harder to pull off than infrastructure attacks. At least that's how I see it, being a programmer and not an economist, haha.

@kensanata Both systems are equally bad, but I get your point about digital systems vs physical money, though I think it’s largely a distinction, without a difference. Which is what the argument of #bitcoin’s been.

Inflations and currency manipulations that devalue cash, or render it useless are usually done not by a single bad actor, but by national, and international banks and monetary funds in unision. You have little control over the value of physical cash, despite holding it

@mareklach I agree with the degree of control the individual has being null, but I a disagree with all differences being irrelevant. Money needs trust, trust requires risk assessment, and I think some properties do decrease resilience, make systems more brittle and easy to manipulate.

@kensanata Let me add one more aspect to your story (to actually support yours)...
In the Netherlands they have a system called "PINnen", which only cards are capable of, which were emmitted over there. "Normal" cards (like Visa, Mastercard etc.) of other cards are very often refused. Germany has a similar system "Girocard" (if I'm right). Others might have it too. In any case, cash was a universally accepted payment method until not so long ago. Fragmentation, additional (centralized) costs.

@kensanata In the UK a lot of shops refuse cards under Β£5/10 because of the fees. I've always wondered what's done in Sweden (and Norway) because if the fees are that high then it doesn't make sense.

@kensanata Regarding the Paypal issue, in Norway we have Vipps for person-to-person bank transfers.

It seems to be universal, apart from me who doesn't have a smartphone. Causes quite a few issues because people don't want me to give them cash!

@squaregoldfish Yeah, in Switzerland a coalition of banks is pushing TWINT, I assume I order to defend against Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and other solutions. So it costs fees to merchants but person to person it’s free if and only if you both have an account with a Swiss bank.

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