COVID-19 Is Putting Cash In Early Grave All Around The World

What normal propaganda could not produce by itself, the rumor that physical cash might transmit COVID-19 has literally become a hot potato that no one wants to touch. This is a perfect lead-in for central banks to establish a digital currency to get the economy going again. ⁃ TN Editor

 In troubled times, people have been known to hoard currency at home — a financial security blanket against deep uncertainty. But in this crisis, things are different. This time cash itself, passed from hand to hand across neighborhoods, cities and societies just like the coronavirus, is a source of suspicion rather than reassurance.

No longer a thing to be shoved mindlessly into a pocket, tucked into a worn wallet or thrown casually on a kitchen counter, money’s status has changed during the virus era — perhaps irrevocably. The pandemic has also reawakened debate about the continued viability of what has been the physical lifeblood of global economies: paper money and coins.

From the supermarkets of the United States and Japan to the shantytowns of Africa to the gas stations of Tehran, a growing number of businesses and individuals worldwide have stopped using banknotes in fear that physical currency, handled by tens of thousands of people over their useful life, could be a vector for the spreading coronavirus.

Public officials and health experts have said that the risk of transferring the virus from person to person through the use of money is minimal. That hasn’t stopped businesses from refusing to accept currency, and some countries from urging citizens to stop using banknotes altogether.

In the midst of the coronavirus era, a thousand calculations are made before cash is handled — mostly with gloved hands. Some leave the money laid out on surfaces for days, for the virus to die. Others disinfect banknotes with spray. Some even microwave them in the belief it kills the virus. In China, banks are now required to sterilize cash with ultraviolet light or heat, then store notes for at least a week before they are given to customers.

“In many areas, cash was already beginning to disappear due the increased risk of robbery, the ease of internet ordering, and the ubiquity of cell phones,” says Zachary Cohle, an assistant professor at the department of economics at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

“Cash,” Cohle says, “now carries an extra stigma.”

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Global Elites: In The Post-Covid World, Cash Is Trash

The war on cash was intensifying before the Great Panic of 2020. Now the full assault is on and it is almost a foregone conclusion that cash will stripped out of the monetary system as central bankers implement a digital form of currency to replace it. ⁃ TN Editor

There’s been a concerted effort recently among the oligarchs I like to call The Davos Crowd to demonize cash. From hedge fund manager Ray Dalio pronouncing ‘Cash is trash’ earlier this year to the fear-mongering surrounding COVID-19 making people fearful of dealing in cash because it might be tainted the anti-cash rhetoric has been amped up to eleven.

And it’s been no secret that the elite of the world want us to stop transacting in cash because it is something they can’t track. Sweden has flirted with the cashless society while the European Union did away with large denomination bills the same way the U.S. has been phasing them out.

A few years ago, India created a huge stir removing the 500 and 1000 rupee note from circulation. All of these moves have been, nominally, in service of stamping out corruption. They are sold to the public as a way to punish criminals and money launderers.

But the reality is that the push for removing cash from society is to put all of our financial dealings in databases which gives authorities a record of everything you do. As governments around the world become increasingly bankrupt they naturally look for ways to improve tax compliance as well as create profiles of anyone they deem a threat to their continued existence.

That’s the real reason for why ‘cash is trash’ to authorities. And the moves towards digital only versions of national currencies is an extension of the power grab currently underway as a response to the crisis of COVID-19.

But, more than that, the reason for this demonization of cash has as much to do with the understanding that the current global financial system is broken and will need a global coordinated bailout.

The easiest way to effect that is to be able to create digital money at the stroke of a keyboard.

The crisis of 2008 was bigger than the Federal Reserve. To survive it required the coordinated effort of all the major central banks along with support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

So, color me not shocked when I see this report from Sputnik that the head of the Shanghai Gold Exchange publicly make the case in favor of a transnational digital currency to replace the U.S. dollar as the world’s trade settlement currency.

According to Wang Zhenying, quoted by Reuters, the dollar, as a weapon of US pressure and a source of vulnerability for other countries, can no longer be the standard global currency. He admits that gold is also not an ideal means of exchange, as its quantity is limited and it cannot meet the needs of growing international trade. Therefore, a supranational currency for settlements independent of any country is needed.

This idea is not something new and was already promoted by China during the last financial crisis of 2008-2009. Then Chinese central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan proposed to reform the system of international settlements through special drawing rights (SDR).

Author and commentator Jim Rickards has been making this point for more than a decade. He’s talked openly in his previous books The Death of Money and Currency Wars about the plans for the IMF to assume the role as the world’s central bank because the crisis in process will be greater than all the central banks.

I agree with Jim on this and have for years. The world’s elite have discussed these things openly. They’ve written white papers on this.

But what is interesting now is that Mr. Zhenying is modifying this idea slightly, talking in terms of a hard currency of some form to replace the U.S. dollar. But, look at his argument closely and you’ll see the bait and switch for while he doesn’t believe we’ll get consensus on using IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDR) as a way to settle accounts he doesn’t believe gold is viable either.

So what will it be, then?

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Whitehead: COVID-19 And The (Final) War On Cash

Technocracy calls for tracking all consumption and behavior with “no one left behind.” The only way to accomplish this is by removing cash from the economic system and forcing everyone into a digital system designed to collect and centralize all financial data. ⁃ TN Editor

“The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: Your money, or your life. And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat. The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the road side, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.”—Lysander Spooner, American abolitionist and legal theorist

Cash may well become a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As these COVID-19 lockdowns drag out, more and more individuals and businesses are going cashless (for convenience and in a so-called effort to avoid spreading coronavirus germs), engaging in online commerce or using digital forms of currency (bank cards, digital wallets, etc.). As a result, physical cash is no longer king.

Yet there are other, more devious, reasons for this re-engineering of society away from physical cash: a cashless society—easily monitored, controlled, manipulated, weaponized and locked down—would play right into the hands of the government (and its corporate partners).

To this end, the government and its corporate partners-in-crime have been waging a subtle war on cash for some time now.

What is this war on cash?

It’s a concerted campaign to shift consumers towards a digital mode of commerce that can easily be monitored, tracked, tabulated, mined for data, hacked, hijacked and confiscated when convenient.

According to economist Steve Forbes, “The real reason for this war on cash—start with the big bills and then work your way down—is an ugly power grab by Big Government. People will have less privacy: Electronic commerce makes it easier for Big Brother to see what we’re doing, thereby making it simpler to bar activities it doesn’t like, such as purchasing salt, sugar, big bottles of soda and Big Macs.”

Much like the war on drugs and the war on terror, this so-called “war on cash” is being sold to the public as a means of fighting terrorists, drug dealers, tax evaders and now COVID-19 germs.

Digital currency provides the government and its corporate partners with the ultimate method to track, control you and punish you.

In recent years, just the mere possession of significant amounts of cash could implicate you in suspicious activity and label you a criminal. The rationale (by police) is that cash is the currency for illegal transactions given that it’s harder to track, can be used to pay illegal immigrants, and denies the government its share of the “take,” so doing away with paper money will help law enforcement fight crime and help the government realize more revenue.

Despite what we know about the government and its history of corruption, bumbling, fumbling and data breaches, not to mention how easily technology can be used against us, the campaign to do away with cash is really not a hard sell.

It’s not a hard sell, that is, if you know the right buttons to push, and the government has become a grand master in the art of getting the citizenry to do exactly what it wants. Remember, this is the same government that plans to use behavioral science tactics to “nudge” citizens to comply with the government’s public policy and program initiatives.

It’s also not a hard sell if you belong to the Digital Generation, that segment of the population for whom technology is second nature and “the first generation born into a world that has never not known digital life.”

And it’s certainly not a hard sell if you belong to the growing class of Americans who use their cell phones to pay bills, purchase goods, and transfer funds.

In much the same way that Americans have opted into government surveillance through the convenience of GPS devices and cell phones, digital cash—the means of paying with one’s debit card, credit card or cell phone—is becoming the de facto commerce of the American police state.

Not too long ago, it was estimated that smart phones would replace cash and credit cards altogether by 2020. Right on schedule, a growing number of businesses are adopting no-cash policies, including certain airlines, hotels, rental car companies, restaurants and retail stores. In Sweden, even the homeless and churches accept digital cash.

Making the case for “never, ever carrying cash” in lieu of a digital wallet, journalist Lisa Rabasca Roepe argues that cash is inconvenient, ATM access is costly, and it’s now possible to reimburse people using digital apps such as Venmo. Thus, there’s no longer a need for cash. “More and more retailers and grocery stores are embracing Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, and Android Pay,” notes Roepe. “PayPal’s app is now accepted at many chain stores including Barnes & Noble, Foot Locker, Home Depot, and Office Depot. Walmart and CVS have both developed their own payment apps while their competitors Target and RiteAid are working on their own apps.”

It’s not just cash that is going digital, either.

A growing number of states are looking to adopt digital driver’s licenses that would reside on your mobile phone. These licenses would include all of the information contained on your printed license, along with a few “extras” such as real-time data downloaded directly from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Of course, reading between the lines, having a digital driver’s license will open you up to much the same jeopardy as digital cash: it will make it possible for the government to better track your movements, monitor your activities and communications and ultimately shut you down.

So what’s the deal here?

Despite all of the advantages that go along with living in a digital age—namely, convenience—it’s hard to imagine how a cashless world navigated by way of a digital wallet doesn’t signal the beginning of the end for what little privacy we have left and leave us vulnerable to the likes of government thieves and data hackers.

First, when I say privacy, I’m not just referring to the things that you don’t want people to know about, those little things you do behind closed doors that are neither illegal nor harmful but embarrassing or intimate. I am also referring to the things that are deeply personal and which no one need know about, certainly not the government and its constabulary of busybodies, nannies, Peeping Toms, jail wardens and petty bureaucrats.

Second, we’re already witnessing how easy it will be for government agents to manipulate digital wallets for their own gain. For example, civil asset forfeiture schemes are becoming even more profitable for police agencies thanks to ERAD (Electronic Recovery and Access to Data) devices supplied by the Department of Homeland Security that allow police to not only determine the balance of any magnetic-stripe card (i.e., debit, credit and gift cards) but also freeze and seize any funds on pre-paid money cards. In fact, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it does not violate the Fourth Amendment for police to scan or swipe your credit card.

Third, as commentator Paul Craig Roberts observed, while Americans have been distracted by the government’s costly war on terror, “the financial system, working hand-in-hand with policymakers, has done more damage to Americans than terrorists could possibly inflict.” Ultimately, as Roberts—who served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under Ronald Reagan—makes clear, the war on cash is about giving the government the ultimate control of the economy and complete access to the citizenry’s pocketbook.

Fourth, if there’s a will, there’s a way. So far, every technological convenience that has made our lives easier has also become our Achilles’ heel, opening us up to greater vulnerabilities from hackers and government agents alike. In recent years, the U.S. government has been repeatedly hacked. In 2015, the Office of Personnel Management had more than 20 million personnel files stolen, everything from Social Security numbers to birth dates and fingerprint records. In 2014, it was the White House, the State Department, the Post Office and other government agencies, along with a host of financial institutions, retailers and entertainment giants that had their files breached. And these are the people in charge of protecting our sensitive information?

Fifth, if there’s one entity that will not stop using cash for its own nefarious purposes, it’s the U.S. government. Cash is the currency used by the government to pay off its foreign “associates.” For instance, the Obama administration flew more than $400 million in cash to Iran, reportedly as part of a financial settlement with the country. Critics claim the money was ransom paid for the return of American hostages. And then there was the $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills that the U.S. flew to Iraq only to claim it had no record of what happened to the money. It just disappeared, we were told. So when government economists tell you that two-thirds of all $100 bills in circulation are overseas—more than half a trillion dollars’ worth—it’s a pretty good bet that the government played a significant part in their export.

Sixth, this drive to do away with cash is part of a larger global trend driven by international financial institutions and the United Nations that is transforming nations of all sizes, from the smallest nation to the biggest, most advanced economies.

Finally, short of returning to a pre-technological, Luddite age, there’s really no way to pull this horse back now that it’s left the gate. While doing so is near impossible, it would also mean doing without the many conveniences and advantages that are the better angels, if you will, of technology’s totalitarian tendencies: the internet, medical advances, etc.

To our detriment, we have virtually no control over who accesses our private information, how it is stored, or how it is used. Whether we ever had much control remains up for debate. However, in terms of our bargaining power over digital privacy rights, we have been reduced to a pitiful, unenviable position in which we can only hope and trust that those in power will treat our information with respect.

Clearly, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American Peoplewe have come full circle, back to a pre-revolutionary era of taxation without any real representation.

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Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.




cashless smart cities

Coronavirus: WHO Urges People To Go ‘Cashless’

Globalists are taking full advantage of a fearful crisis to promote a cashless world as a way to combat China’s coronavirus. Removing cash from society takes all monetary power away from citizens while giving it to central banks. ⁃ TN Editor

It looks like the Chinese started something…

Following reports that Beijing had “quarantined” dirty cash, the WHO warned on Monday that the virus could survive on banknotes, potentially spreading Covid-19 within communities, and across the world. To reduce the risk of being infected by money, the NGO advised citizens in countries struggling with outbreaks to favor digital payments when possiblethe Daily Telegraph reported.

That the WHO is telling the public to avoid cash is hardly a surprise: research has found that coronaviruses have been found to live on surfaces for as long as 9 days.

During the statement, a WHO spokesman referenced a Bank of England study claiming that banknotes “can carry bacteria or viruses” and urged people to wash their hands. Other studies have shown that 90% of US $1 bills had bacteria present, and one Swiss study found that viruses had survive on the faces of Swiss francs for days.

The WHO’s warnings follow the People’s Bank of China last month started disinfecting currency deposited at Chinese banks using ultraviolet light, before quarantining the bills for a week before releasing them back into circulation.

Brits, and their fellow Europeans, should be increasingly careful as the virus spreads across Europe, the WHO warned, via the Telegraph:

“We know that money changes hands frequently and can pick up all sorts of bacteria and viruses,” a spokesman told the Telegraph.

We would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes, and avoid touching their face. When possible, it would also be advisable to use contactless payments to reduce the risk of transmission.”

Of course, that one of the world’s major NGOs is seizing the opportunity to proclaim the virtues of ‘paperless’ money is hardly a surprise: the globalist push toward a ‘cashless society’ has been underway for years now, having had its biggest successes in Scandinavia. Sweden has gone virtually “cashless”, and in such a short time, they’ve already confronted the many drawbacks of relying exclusively on digital money.

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WEF Debuts Framework For Central Bank Digital Currency

TN has documented the headlong rush of Central Banks toward digital/blockchain currency in order to replace physical currencies. This will be the new financial system for Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy.  ⁃ TN Editor

The World Economic Forum (WEF) — together with some of the world’s major central banks — has created a central bank digital currency (CBDC) policymaker toolkit.

According to an announcement on Jan. 22, the toolkit is the WEF’s attempt to help policy-makers understand whether deploying a CBDC would be advantageous and guide them through its design.

The WEF collaborated with regulators, central bank researchers, international organizations and experts from over 40 institutions to develop the framework. The head of blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) at the World Economic Forum Sheila Warren explained:

“Given the critical roles central banks play in the global economy, any central bank digital currency implementation, including potentially with blockchain technology, will have a profound impact domestically and internationally. […] It is imperative that central banks proceed cautiously, with a rigorous analysis of the opportunities and challenges posed.”

Bank of Thailand Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said that the institution made good progress on its own CBDC implementation, called Project Inthanon. Recently, reports started circulating that Hong Kong and Thailand’s central banks have stepped closer to implementing a joint CBDC for cross-border payments. He explained how the toolkit is useful for the continued development of the bank’s digital currency:

“From our experience, we need to identify tradeoffs between benefits from the use cases and their associated risks across different dimensions. This is where the Policymaker Toolkit could usefully provide an actionable framework for CBDC deployment.”

Central Bank of Bahrain Governor Rasheed M. Al Maraj announced that the institution that he is guiding will pilot the WEF’s toolkit, saying, “We hope that it will be an opportunity to learn, grow and to adapt to the changes in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

The pros and cons of a digital currency

The framework recognizes that a CBDC — among other things — can improve the cost and speed efficiencies of cross-border interbank payments, as well as reduce settlement and counterparty risks. The WEF notes that a digital currency can also enhance financial data transmission and reporting, and improve traceability compared to physical cash.

The paper admits that, before considering a CBDC, other solutions to economic friction should be considered. A digital currency may not add value in domestic interbank payments where an efficient system is already present.

The toolkit also notes that digital currency implementation requires substantial investments in cybersecurity and system resilience, and that potential risks come along with it:

“Generates substantial financial risks, including: 1) bank disintermediation risk, which could reduce bank profits and lending activity; 2) digital‐bank‐run risk as depositors may rapidly convert commercial bank deposits to CBDC.”

Toolkit distinguishes between different types of CBDCs

The WEF’s framework divides CBDCs into three categories: retail, wholesale and hybrid. The first category allows non-financial users to hold digital currency accounts, while the second is an electronic system granting access to the central bank reserve that could be used by commercial banks and other financial institutions for interbank and security transactions.

Hybrid CBDCs allow financial institutions that do not usually have access to a central bank deposit facility to hold reserves at it. This would enable stronger safeguards and monitoring of those organizations and improve interoperability between different payment systems, according to the WEF.

The paper explains that in the case of a DLT-based CBDC, the central bank would preserve full control over the issuance of the digital currency:

“[The central bank] could delegate transaction approval to a more decentralized network, most likely consisting of regulated financial institutions. Transaction approval could follow a pre‐specified consensus process determined by the central bank, which could include privileges for the central bank such as transaction ‘veto’ powers or visibility. It is also possible to develop a DLT system in which the central bank remains the only validating node yet it benefits from other advantages related to DLT.”

The impact of stablecoins on CBDC development

Global efforts and discussions around CBDC development are increasingly common. Many believe that stablecoins — and Facebook’s Libra in particular — served as a wake-up call for central banks to realize that in the digital age the public expects cheap and instant digital payments.

Earlier this month, the president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, also said that she supports the bank’s active involvement in the development of a CBDC, particularly in addressing the demand for faster and cheaper cross-border payments.

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Banks Now Selling Your Transaction Data For Big Bucks

If data is the new oil of the 21st century, then banks have more than anyone… on your purchases, travels, habits, etc. Now they are figuring out ways to sell your data to the highest bidder, paying you nothing in return.  ⁃ TN Editor

There’s a powerful new player watching what you buy so it can tailor product offerings for you: the bank behind your credit or debit card.

For years, Google and Facebook have been showing ads based on your online behavior. Retailers from Amazon to Walgreens also regularly suction up your transaction history to steer future spending and hold your loyalty.

Now banks, too, want to turn data they already have on your spending habits into extra revenue by identifying likely customers for retailers. Banks are increasingly aware that they could be sitting on a gold mine of information that can be used to predict — or sway — where you spend. Historically, such data has been used mostly for fraud protection.

“Ten years ago, your bank was like your psychiatrist or your minister — your bank kept secrets.”

Suppose you were to treat yourself to lunch on Cyber Monday, the busiest online shopping day of the year. If you order ahead at Chipotle — paying, of course, with your credit card — you might soon find your bank dangling 10% off lunch at Little Caesars. The bank would earn fees from the pizza joint, both for showing the offer and processing the payment.

Wells Fargo began customizing retail offers for individual customers on Nov. 21, joining Chase, Bank of America, PNC, SunTrust and a slew of smaller banks.

Unlike Google or Facebook, which try to infer what you’re interested in buying based on your searches, web visits or likes, “banks have the secret weapon in that they actually know what we spend money on,” said Silvio Tavares of the trade group CardLinx Association, whose members help broker purchase-related offers. “It’s a better predictor of what we’re going to spend on.”

While banks say they’re moving cautiously and being mindful of privacy concerns, it’s not clear that consumers are fully aware of what their banks are up to.

Banks know many of our deepest, darkest secrets — that series of bills paid at a cancer clinic, for instance, or that big strip-club tab that you thought stayed in Vegas. A bank might suspect someone’s adulterous affair long before the betrayed partner would.

“Ten years ago, your bank was like your psychiatrist or your minister — your bank kept secrets,” said Ed Mierzwinski, a consumer advocate at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Now, he says, “they think they are the same as a department store or an online merchant.”

The startup Cardlytics, one of the field’s pioneers, runs the offer programs for Wells Fargo, Chase and other banks. Though these partnerships, Cardlytics says it gets insights on about $2.8 trillion worth of annual consumer spending worldwide.

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Seoul cryptocurrency

Seoul: Cryptocurrency Integral To Smart City Transformation

In Technocracy: The Hard Road to World Order, I wrote, “Cryptocurrency is the futuristic tool of Sustainable Development.”  Seoul is proving that crypto is “an essential part of the Smart City toolbox.” ⁃ TN Editor

A local digital currency, separate from the national currency, is an essential part of the smart city toolbox.

Seoul is nearing several significant milestones in its journey towards becoming a blockchain smart city, blockinpress reports. By November, it aims to have the following in place:

  1. Public services accepting Korea’s national blockchain ID system as valid documentation.
  2. A blockchain system for managing part-time worker labour contracts, insurance and work history.
  3. A native city-wide cryptocurrency, dubbed S-coin.

According to blockinpress, S-coins will be redeemable for rewards and given to citizens when they use public services and participate in citizenship duties, such as paying taxes and participating in public opinion polls.

Beyond that, the potential applications of a digital currency such as S-coin are almost limitless, as a way of shaping people’s behaviour and streamlining interactions in the smart cities of the future.

The value of S-coin

To understand the value of the S-coin – the real rather than speculative value – it’s important to understand that one of the guiding principles of Seoul’s smart city program is to put engaged citizens at the centre of everything. After all, a city (and the entire planet for that matter) is for the benefit of its inhabitants first and foremost.

A native cryptocurrency is an excellent way of incentivising desirable behaviour in an organic way.

As people have previously said, government incentives have historically been oriented almost solely around punishments. Citizens behave because they get punished if they don’t. But just about every piece of behavioural research on the planet says a combination stick and carrot approach is by far the best way to instill desirable behaviour in humans and other animals.

Although the exact scope of S-coin, and where it will be rewarded and redeemable, is still up in the air, some of the areas it could be applied include the following:

  • Encouraging citizen participation in governance
  • Facilitating cooperation between citizens
  • Information gathering

Cooperative public-private decision-making

As a rule, most voters are apathetic. The exceptions to this rule are typically places with a longstanding history of citizen participation, and where participants can get a genuine sense of empowerment.

Only time can create that tradition, but a combination of incentives and some new processes can help create that sense of genuine empowerment on which everything rests. In this case, S-coin is the incentive part of the puzzle. South Korea’s citizen’s suggestion box website is another. Here people can make proposals, and others can vote on them.

Popular proposals go to public discussion forums, where government, private sector and citizens can all weigh in.

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Libra

Libra: Facebook Partners With 27 Companies To Launch Global Cryptocurrency

Facebook is making a massive power grab to dominate the global payments system and expects to have over 100 founding members in the consortium before Libra is launched in 2020. Members already include Visa, Mastercard, Stripe and Paypal. It will be hard for any regulatory body to override such a powerful financial organization. ⁃ TN Editor

Facebook is launching cryptocurrency next year that will allow people to move money from their smartphone into a digital “wallet”.

The currency is known as Libra, which the social network says it has “no special role” in governing and will manage equally with a group of big companies.

Experts have branded the move a dangerous power grab that marks Facebook’s “most invasive” form of surveillance yet.

So far, Facebook has enlisted 28 firms, including Spotify and Uber, who each had to invest a minimum of £8million to be a founding member of the Libra Association, an independent not-for-profit membership organisation.

It wants to attract 100 businesses in time for launch, which it is aiming for the first half of 2020.

Libra is supported by a reserve of the world’s best assets and the world’s most trusted central banks, who gave the cryptocurrency “general cautious support”, according to David Marcus, who started exploring blockchain at Facebook a year ago.

“Libra holds the potential to provide billions of people around the world with access to a more inclusive, more open financial ecosystem,” he explained.

The social network is hoping that its collaborative approach can ease volatility concerns of existing blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

Facebook will operate its own digital wallet for people to spend Libra, known as the Calibra Wallet, which will be available in WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and as a standalone app.

Users will be able to send money to each other initially, at low to no cost, the social network said.

Eventually, it intends to open the Calibra Wallet up to additional services, so that people can pay bills, buy goods by scanning a code or accessing public transport.

Account information from Calibra will not be shared with Facebook to improve things like ad targeting, except for “limited cases” where this data may be shared “to keep people safe, comply with the law, and provide basic functionality to the people who use Calibra”, the social network added.

Libra is open source, meaning anyone will be able to launch their own digital wallet and include the currency.

“As a Founding Member of the Libra Network, Vodafone will extend its commitment to digital and financial inclusion by supporting the creation of a new global currency and encouraging a

wide range of innovative financial services to be developed through its open-source platform,” said Stefano Parisse, group director of product and services at Vodafone Group.

“This has the potential to be truly transformative and will benefit those who have never used, or are struggling to access, financial services around the world.”

Not everyone was singing the project’s praises.

Phil Chen, Decentralized Chief Officer at HTC, said the move was part of a “dangerous” power grab by Facebook.

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San Francisco

Cash Is King: San Francisco To Ban Credit-Only Stores

Reality meets globalization in San Francisco, one of the most liberal cities on earth. Retail trade is being hurt by cashless stores, so a new city ordinance will mandate that cash return or stores will lose their business license. ⁃ TN Editor

San Francisco is about to require brick-and-mortar retailers to take cash as payment, joining Philadelphia and New Jersey in banning a growing paperless practice that critics say discriminates against low-income people who may not have access to credit cards.

The Board of Supervisors will take up the issue at a meeting Tuesday, and it’s likely to pass, with nearly all 11 members listed as sponsors or co-sponsors.

“I just felt it wasn’t fair that if someone wanted to buy a sandwich in a store, and they had cash, that they would be turned away,” said Supervisor Vallie Brown, who introduced the legislation. “We also have our homeless population. They’re not banked.”

In many ways, the legislation is an easy call for San Francisco officials, who strive to make life more equitable in a city with an enormous wealth gap.

High-paid tech workers who flocked to San Francisco to work for Facebook, Google, Uber and Airbnb may like the ease of paying by credit card, debit card or smartphone. But many low-income people, including more than 4,000 who sleep on San Francisco’s streets every night, likely don’t have money to sustain bank accounts.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 17 percent of African American households and 15 percent of Latino households had no bank account.

Some people also prefer to use cash because they don’t want to leave a digital trail of where they have been and what they have bought.

San Francisco’s legislation requires brick-and-mortar businesses to accept cash for goods and some services. Temporary pop-up stores and internet-only businesses such as ride-hailing companies would be exempt, as would food trucks, which say they lack the resources to handle cash.

Philadelphia and New Jersey passed similar laws this year. Legislation requiring merchants to accept cash also has been introduced in New York City.

The efforts come after the rollout last year of cashless Amazon Go stores, which require customers to scan an app to enter . Whatever items customers take are automatically tallied in a virtual cart and charged to a credit card. The retail giant bowed to pressure last month and agreed to accept cash at more than 30 cashless stores.

Amazon opened its first cash-accepting store Tuesday in a high-end New York City shopping mall frequented by office workers. Anyone who wants to pay with cash will be swiped through the turnstile entrance by employees. After shoppers grab what they want, an employee will scan the items with a mobile device, take the cash and give customers their change.

Amazon didn’t say when its 11 other Go stores will start accepting cash.

Though plenty of cheap dim sum spots, taquerias and dive bars take only cash in San Francisco, some retailers argue that not taking cash is safer and more efficient.

Cashless restaurants are clustered in San Francisco’s Financial District and South of Market neighborhoods, where white-collar employees devour upscale salads and protein bowls.

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SDR

Call For SDR As ‘True Global Currency’ Is A Red Herring

The SDR has been around for 50 years and is structurally incapable of becoming the world’s ‘true global currency’. Thus, this story by a globalist academic and high-ranking UN official is a red herring meant to deflect attention away from Fintech that is expected to finance the Green Economy, aka Sustainable Development and Technocracy.

We (Sutton and Wood) wrote about SDRs and Bancor in the 1970s. It never caught on then, and there is no reason that it will catch on now. The current pressure on global finance is to scrap all national currencies. Since SDRs are based on a basket of those currencies, they will be worthless as well. ⁃ TN Editor

 

This year, the world commemorates the anniversaries of two key events in the development of the global monetary system. The first is the creation of the International Monetary Fund at the Bretton Woods conference 75 years ago. The second is the advent, 50 years ago, of the Special Drawing Right (SDR), the IMF’s global reserve asset.

When it introduced the SDR, the Fund hoped to make it “the principal reserve asset in the international monetary system.” This remains an unfulfilled ambition; indeed, the SDR is one of the most underused instruments of international cooperation. Nonetheless, better late than never: turning the SDR into a true global currency would yield several benefits for the world’s economy and monetary system.

The idea of a global currency is not new. Prior to the Bretton Woods negotiations, John Maynard Keynes suggested the “bancor” as the unit of account of his proposed International Clearing Union. In the 1960s, under the leadership of the Belgian-American economist Robert Triffin, other proposals emerged to address the growing problems created by the dual dollar-gold system that had been established at Bretton Woods. The system finally collapsed in 1971. As a result of those discussions, the IMF approved the SDR in 1967, and included it in its Articles of Agreement two years later.

Although the IMF’s issuance of SDRs resembles the creation of national money by central banks, the SDR fulfills only some of the functions of money. True, SDRs are a reserve asset, and thus a store of value. They are also the IMF’s unit of account. But only central banks – mainly in developing countries, though also in developed economies – and a few international institutions use SDRs as a means of exchange to pay each other.

The SDR has a number of basic advantages, not least that the IMF can use it as an instrument of international monetary policy in a global economic crisis. In 2009, for example, the IMF issued $250 billion in SDRs to help combat the downturn, following a proposal by the G20.

Most importantly, SDRs could also become the basic instrument to finance IMF programs. Until now, the Fund has relied mainly on quota (capital) increases and borrowing from member countries. But quotas have tended to lag behind global economic growth; the last increase was approved in 2010, but the US Congress agreed to it only in 2015. And loans from member countries, the IMF’s main source of new funds (particularly during crises), are not true multilateral instruments.

The best alternative would be to turn the IMF into an institution fully financed and managed in its own global currency – a proposal made several decades ago by Jacques Polak, then the Fund’s leading economist. One simple option would be to consider the SDRs that countries hold but have not used as “deposits” at the IMF, which the Fund can use to finance its lending to countries. This would require a change in the Articles of Agreement, because SDRs currently are not held in regular IMF accounts.

The Fund could then issue SDRs regularly or, better still, during crises, as in 2009. In the long term, the amount issued must be related to the demand for foreign-exchange reserves. Various economists and the IMF itself have estimatedthat the Fund could issue $200-300 billion in SDRs per year. Moreover, this would spread the financial benefits (seigniorage) of issuing the global currency across all countries. At present, these benefits accrue only to issuers of national or regional currencies that are used internationally – particularly the US dollar and the euro.

More active use of SDRs would also make the international monetary system more independent of US monetary policy. One of the major problems of the global monetary system is that the policy objectives of the US, as the issuer of the world’s main reserve currency, are not always consistent with overall stability in the system.

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