Why Bill Gates Hates Cash

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

Bloomberg Businessweek has an interesting article about the downsides of cash payments in the world of non government organizations:

Billionaires are known for not keeping a lot of spending green in their wallets. But that’s not why Bill Gates hates cash. He hates it because of its effect on people at the opposite end of the wealth spectrum—the world’s poor and unbanked. The Better Than Cash Alliance, which was founded last September and is partially financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, hosted a breakfast today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Speakers from the Philippines, Colombia, and the U.S., among other countries, made the case for why electronic transactions are better than cash payments.

Top five reasons, according to the alliance:

Transparency: Less corruption and theft when payments can be easily tracked. In Afghanistan, U.S. aid agencies use it so workers aren’t so vulnerable to robbery.

Security: The money gets where it’s supposed to go.

Financial inclusion: Electronic payment is a way for unbanked people to establish a record of on-time payment of their bills. This can be an “on-ramp” for them to get other services, such as loans, speakers said.

Cost savings: Moving physical cash around is costlier than zipping electrons. Many poor people, however, still find it cheaper to use cash, because some cashless networks charge high fees.

Access to new markets: This benefit is mainly for providers of financial services.

We learned the downsides of cash payments in Iraq as well. I only wish our DOD had the same expectations of financial accountability these NGOs have.

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7 Responses to Why Bill Gates Hates Cash

  1. Barneysday says:

    I strongly disagree that we are freer than the 60’s. wiretap and surveillance laws were considerably stronger then. Widespread spying on millions of citizens that is routine today was unheard of then.

    • Alastor says:

      Widespread spying on millions of citizens was unheard of during the height of the Cold War? I think you need to revisit your history lessons.

      • Barneysday says:

        Alastor, that’s not what I said or even implied. First off, we were talking about the 60’s, not the 40’s. Be that as it may, the misdirected actions of WWII era were the result of unwarranted paranoia against the Japanese in particular, and German and Italians. They were directed at specific ethnic groups and ancestries. And if you want to look at the paranoia of a J. Edgar Hoover, and his unauthorized spying, it still didn’t come close to the tens of millions of people being spied on, willy nilly, today.

        In the 60’s it took a specific court order to obtain a wiretap for one individual, under very specific conditions, and for a very specific time. Under the newly re-authorized Patriot Act, just about anyone can be tapped and followed without even a judge signing a warrant. Tens of millions of our e-mails and phone records are monitored and subject to search every single day of the year. And these searches go against anyone of any background.

        Further, think logically for a minute. Do we really believe we have millions of terrorists in this country alone? That makes no sense whatever. Then whats the rationalization for all the spying? Along those same lines, are there truly hundreds of thousands of terrorist out to get the US? Then why so many on the no-fly list?

        And the GPS in your telephone and iPad for example, do you really believe their sole purposes and uses will always be only to help you find the nearest Sushi Bar? There already are court cases of people being tracked, unknowingly and for extended periods, by police agencies. Widespread cameras are only for traffic? Face identification technology is already routinely used in crowd cameras. How about drones in civilian airspace in the US? Their cameras will NEVER look into your car or living room or bedroom? What’s to stop them? Did you know that GPS chips are being added to automobiles, and can be installed, unknown to the owners, in private airplanes?

        By definition, freedom is a messy process. It should be. And freedoms are taken away, not all at once, but a small chip at a time, over an extended period of time.

        Lastly, a popular phrase during the GW Bush administration time, was “If you have not done anything wrong, then you have nothing to fear from the government intrusions.” I have a simple response: Show me that or a similar clause in the Constitution or its amendments.

        And so I maintain, and many my age will agree, that indeed we have lost many freedoms compared to the 60’s and continue to do so with sad regularity, every day.

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. Barneysday says:

    And lastly, government agencies have a much easier time of tracking payments and collecting taxes, and spying on the activities of its citizens. Oops, Mr. Gates, this is a big downside to a cashless society.

    • Isn’t that a good thing, though? Many criminal organizations use cash as a way to avoid paper trails.

      Businesses like cash to cheat on taxes, whereas electronic payments, like you said, can be tracked.

      Gate’s comments were about how charities and NGOs deliver payments to third world countries whose leaders pocket the cash for themselves.

      • Barneysday says:

        Hell no! Your points are valid, but naive. Do you really believe that governments are benevolent? In the name of crime prevention and terrorists threats, police drones are already in the air over the US, with more to come. Laws of Habreas Corpus have been passed that exempt that, allowing people to be put in prison for extended terms with no trial or even accusation. The national spy act was just re-authorized, allowing domestic spying and tracking on millions of US citizens. The no-fly list has hundreds of thousands of names on it. Do you really believe millions of citizens are terrorists threats??? Do you believe in a totally benovelent government? The NSA is now stronger in the US then then rest of the world. Why is that? Traffic cameras, and crowd cameras, only to prevent gridlock?

        A little paranoia against our government is not a bad thing, because the way that freedoms are taken away is not one giant move, but a tiny piece at a time. As Franklin said, “Anyone who trades freedom for security has neither.”

      • Its a balancing act, trading freedom for security. That’s how its always been. John Adams passed the Alien and Sedition act in 1798, but balance was restored. I have to take issue with your narrative that our freedoms are being slowly chipped away. We are significantly more free than even in the 1960’s.


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