Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Cash is King or is it Crypto (nite)?

A few weeks ago, I saw a sign stuck to the plastic screen dividing me from a barista. To précis, electronic payment preferred, cash as a last resort.

When I politely enquired as to why, I was told, albeit politely, that whilst it was not "due to COVID" (no sensible business is still using that schtick are they?) despite the transaction cost, it was now the company's preferred method of payment.

This didn't help much but at least it repeated the mantra on the sign: electronic payment good, cash? Not so much.

I have seen this image on Twitter several times in recent weeks and it really got me thinking about the decline of cash and the relentless rise of electronic (fully traceable) replacements. 

Makes you think doesn't it? What is undeniable though (and with thanks to the House of Commons Library for the source data) is our use of cash is plummeting.

Use of cash
In recent years, cash has been used less often for payment by people and businesses, while the use of digital payment methods – led by debit cards – has accelerated.

The pandemic saw a particularly sharp drop in cash use, with cash payments accounting for just 17% of all payments in 2020.

At the end of March 2021, 4.4% of the UK population lived further than 2KM from a bank, building society, Post Office branch or ATM where they could access cash. In Northern Ireland 16.5% of the population lived further than 2 kilometres away.

Bank branches
Since the mid-1990s, the number of bank branches in the UK has been falling steadily, whilst the number of building society branches has been more steady. Between 2012 and 2021, the total number of bank and building society branches in the UK fell by 34%.
ATMs (cash machines) provide essential financial services to individuals by provding access to cash, balance and account information and some other limited functions. The total number of ATMs in the UK peaked in 2015 at 70,588 and has fallen each year since then to the July 2021 total of 52,951.

Between July 2018 and July 2021, the number of ATMs in the UK fell by 12,986 or 20%. There was a fall in the number of ATMs in all regions and countries of the UK. The largest fall was in the London (-23%). The smallest fall was in Northern Ireland (-15%). 

Call me old fashioned but I believe in spending my money as I please without having to account for it.

I pay my taxes in full and on time and if I want to use cash to pay for things or tip a waiter/waitress for service beyond the service charge included in the bill, that is my choice.

I use electronic banking almost exclusively and often pay with for things with a tap of my phone but the thought of living in a cashless society leaves me cold.

My fundamental fear is that we are moving inexorably towards the Chinese Communist Party model of social credits for "state approved" behaviour, with 100% traceability (or spying) on where, when and how you spend your money.

Having moved past a police state where officers come round to "check your thinking" on a reported tweet, I have no desire to submit to total state scrutiny of my spending habits. So what is the alternative?

Cryptocurrency, sometimes called crypto-currency or crypto, is any form of currency that exists digitally or virtually and uses cryptography to secure transactions.

Cryptocurrencies do not have a central issuing or regulating authority, instead using a decentralized system to record transactions and issue new units.
Investing in crypto assets is risky but also potentially extremely profitable. Cryptocurrency is a good investment if you want to gain direct exposure to the demand for digital currency. A safer but potentially less lucrative alternative is buying the stocks of companies with exposure to cryptocurrency.

There's no denying that some cryptocurrency traders have become millionaires thanks to their successful investments. What's not so often discussed is the great number of people who have lost significant sums trying to become rich by investing in crypto.

What is the risk of fraud?
Significant for those who are inexperienced.

Fraudsters will cold call victims and use social media platforms to advertise 'get rich quick' investments in mining and trading in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

Fraudsters will convince victims to sign up to cryptocurrency investment websites and to part with their personal details such as credit card details and driving licences to open a trading account. The victim will then make an initial minimum deposit, after which the fraudster will call them to persuade them to invest again in order to achieve a greater profit.

In some cases, victims have realised that they have been defrauded, but only after the website has been deactivated and the suspects can no longer be contacted.

How big is the problem?
Cryptocurrency scams have been growing exponentially in recent years, a by-product of the boom in crypto.

In the US, Cryptoasset risk manager Elliptic notes that "decentralized finance users and investors" have suffered losses of $10.5Bn as at November 2021 due to theft and fraud, up sevenfold from $1.5Bn in 2020.

World Economic Forum
I authored a piece in 2021 that set out my complete opposition to the World Economic Forum, replete with its unelected globalists including billionaire oligarchs and all that it stands for, including their ambition for 100% electronic currency, including crypto.

Having finally left the clutches of one such globalist, unaccountable set of bureaucrats in the European Union, I have no desire to "join the Davos set".

Save our cash

Cash may be declining in use but for me it remains King. As a conservative, it is my duty to preserve what is great about our past and make sure we pass it on to future generations. Cash is most definitely on that list. 

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