RBS customers suffered a systems meltdown on Monday evening as millions of customers of RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank were left unable to make payments with their credit & debit cards
Of course, this is not the first such instance of fundamental technical failures for card systems. In June 2012, a similar technical fault at NatWest meant that many customers were unable to withdraw cash from their bank account for five days. It also echoes
the stories from the cashless-trial at the London Olympics, which failed on its first day.
Who’s in a position to lobby consumers?
It’s a favourite pastime of all those involved in the card payments system to campaign for a cashless society. But why is there such an appetite to get rid of cash and replace it with card payments? Cash is defenceless because the stakeholders of the industry
are scattered far & wide, meaning an inherent difficulty in a co-ordinated approach to lobbying consumers and organising pro-cash campaigns .
Meanwhile, electronic payments have corporate sponsors, namely Visa & MasterCard, whose co-ordination and determination for such anti-cash campaigns culminates in the greater visibility of the so-called idealistic cashless society.
A Brave New World
Therefore, consumers who believe that a cashless society is ‘the future’ have most likely just swallowed a relentless, biased and agenda-driven publicity campaign from the very organisations that stand to profit (generously) from a move away from cash. I
hope that those calling for a cashless society are RBS customers who have just seen for themselves what their brave new world means. Cash means freedom and should hold an important place in payment means for a long time to come. It cannot be declined by a
third party system and if you have it, you can spend it – which is a pretty essential feature of money.
At a time when concerns are rising about increasing surveillance by Governments & corporations, the ability to spend via cash remains an essential civil liberty that should not be underestimated.