Proposals to ban the $100 bill, as a way to thwart terrorists and other criminals, were in the news a couple of years ago, as we reported here at the time.
Nothing much happened on that front, but today's New York Times has a provocative op-ed piece that takes the concept a big step further: banning cash altogether, worldwide.
The alternative to cash, according to the piece's author, Jonathan Lipow of the Defense Resource Management Institute at the Naval Postgraduate School, is smart-card technology that would allow consumers to transfer money from a buyer's card to a seller's, for example. Apparently the cards themselves would keep records of all transactions, which would periodically be downloaded onto centralized computers. There, according to the piece, "insurgents' and terrorists' electronic payments would generate audit trails that could be screened by data mining software." Presumably your transactions and mine could be similarly searched, if anybody cared to.
What do you think of this? Good idea? Bad idea? Never going to happen anyhow? Please comment, below. —Greg Daugherty