Do NOT Blame Cash For Crime.

Posted on: 02/03/2017

The European Commission has issued a document called "Inception Impact Assessment".

Such a document is issued to announce a potential European Commission initiative, with a view to clarifying during a consultation process whether there is an appetite amongst European Union members for the proposed course of action.

In this case, the proposed course of action is an European Union initiative on restrictions in payments in cash.

The consultation period has yet to begin - it should do so during March 2017 - but you will not be surprised to learn that the team at Cash is Cool will be putting a strong case forward for no such initiative to be launched. 

Indeed, we shall be arguing that restrictions currently imposed at national level should be abolished, as, in our view, they operate against the public interest.

The cases national governments put forward for limiting cash use in payments often refer to efforts to deter terrorism, money laundering and tax evasion.

The issue is, of course, that 99% of the cash-using public are not terrorists, money launderers or tax evaders. So governments are seeking to inconvenience the vast majority to stop a small number of miscreants behaving badly.

That is bad enough. However, we then have to focus on whether there is any evidence that, for example, terrorists rely on cash or that reducing general cash use in payments will inconvenience such misguided people at all.


Similarly, it has been well documented recently that tax evasion is not dominated by the activities of "ordinary" citizens going about their daily lives. Most evasion is carried out at the corporate level, with elaborate structures created to conceal the activity.

Of course, some crime does involve cash. Bank branches are sometimes robbed ( if criminals can find one to rob these days) and cash can be stolen from individuals, whether by pickpocketing or robbery from  private residences.

However, criminals were not created by cash. Criminality is part of human DNA. The strand will not be cut by the removal of cash from circulation.

In any event, to argue that societies should go "cashless" because some criminals chose cash crime as their career path is clearly so  disproportionate as to be nonsensical.

Jewellery Stores are regularly subject to robberies. Should we stop using jewellery - wedding rings, for example - and watches because such items feature in some criminal activity?

Power cables are often stolen, whether from Power Stations themselves or, for example, when used as part of Railway operations. Does anyone with an ounce of commonsense argue such theft is good reason for ceasing to use power or travel by rail?

Lead is frequently removed by criminals from Church roofs and sold as scrap. Does this generate a clamor for the closing of places of religious worship?

I could go on - and often do!

Crime will continue, whatever happens to cash , because criminals must find their version of gainful "employment". 

Clearly, honest, law-abiding members of every community want reasonable measures taken to reduce crime. However, removing the worlds favorite payment method - cash -  would not be a "reasonable measure".

80% of payments worldwide are still made using cash. Even in sophisticated Western Economies, such as Germany, over 60% of daily payments feature cash.

The public have a right to use cash. Just as they have a right to own jewellery, use electricity and trains, or congregate in Churches.

Crime of all kinds must be fought but the publics right to choice, in payments and every other aspect of life, can never be sacrificed in pursuit of  the small percentage of the population who are criminals.






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