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For ages, money has meant little metal disks and rectangular slips of paper. Yet the usefulness of physical money--to say nothing of its value--is coming under fire as never before. Intrigued by the distinct possibility that cash will soon disappear, author and Wired contributing editor David Wolman sets out to investigate the future of money...and how it will affect your For ages, money has meant little metal disks and rectangular slips of paper. Yet the usefulness of physical money--to say nothing of its value--is coming under fire as never before. Intrigued by the distinct possibility that cash will soon disappear, author and Wired contributing editor David Wolman sets out to investigate the future of money...and how it will affect your wallet.Wolman begins his journey by deciding to shun cash for an entire year--a surprisingly successful experiment (with a couple of notable exceptions). He then ventures forth to find people and technologies that illuminate the road ahead. In Honolulu, he drinks Mai Tais with Bernard von NotHaus, a convicted counterfeiter and alternative-currency evangelist whom government prosecutors have labeled a domestic terrorist. In Tokyo, he sneaks a peek at the latest anti-counterfeiting wizardry, while puzzling over the fact that banknote forgers depend on society's addiction to cash. In a downtrodden Oregon town, he mingles with obsessive coin collectors--the people who are supposed to love cash the most, yet don't. And in rural Georgia, he examines why some people feel the end of cash is Armageddon's warm-up act. After stops at the Digital Money Forum in London and Iceland's central bank, Wolman flies to Delhi, where he sees first-hand how cash penalizes the poor more than anyone--and how mobile technologies promise to change that.Told with verve and wit, The End of Money explores an aspect of our daily lives so fundamental that we rarely stop to think about it. You'll never look at a dollar bill the same again.


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For ages, money has meant little metal disks and rectangular slips of paper. Yet the usefulness of physical money--to say nothing of its value--is coming under fire as never before. Intrigued by the distinct possibility that cash will soon disappear, author and Wired contributing editor David Wolman sets out to investigate the future of money...and how it will affect your For ages, money has meant little metal disks and rectangular slips of paper. Yet the usefulness of physical money--to say nothing of its value--is coming under fire as never before. Intrigued by the distinct possibility that cash will soon disappear, author and Wired contributing editor David Wolman sets out to investigate the future of money...and how it will affect your wallet.Wolman begins his journey by deciding to shun cash for an entire year--a surprisingly successful experiment (with a couple of notable exceptions). He then ventures forth to find people and technologies that illuminate the road ahead. In Honolulu, he drinks Mai Tais with Bernard von NotHaus, a convicted counterfeiter and alternative-currency evangelist whom government prosecutors have labeled a domestic terrorist. In Tokyo, he sneaks a peek at the latest anti-counterfeiting wizardry, while puzzling over the fact that banknote forgers depend on society's addiction to cash. In a downtrodden Oregon town, he mingles with obsessive coin collectors--the people who are supposed to love cash the most, yet don't. And in rural Georgia, he examines why some people feel the end of cash is Armageddon's warm-up act. After stops at the Digital Money Forum in London and Iceland's central bank, Wolman flies to Delhi, where he sees first-hand how cash penalizes the poor more than anyone--and how mobile technologies promise to change that.Told with verve and wit, The End of Money explores an aspect of our daily lives so fundamental that we rarely stop to think about it. You'll never look at a dollar bill the same again.

30 review for The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers--And the Coming Cashless Society

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    As shop-worn as the trope is, I wish that The End of Money had a question mark at the end of its title, at least in spirit. In fact, the title belies one of the central difficulties of the project Wolman endorses: what the book is about is the end of cash, as in physical bills and coins, not the end of money, as in a medium of exchange. That the topics are confused in the book's title speaks to how deeply entrenched cash is in societies throughout the world, and the intense difficulty of dislodg As shop-worn as the trope is, I wish that The End of Money had a question mark at the end of its title, at least in spirit. In fact, the title belies one of the central difficulties of the project Wolman endorses: what the book is about is the end of cash, as in physical bills and coins, not the end of money, as in a medium of exchange. That the topics are confused in the book's title speaks to how deeply entrenched cash is in societies throughout the world, and the intense difficulty of dislodging it completely. The book takes the form of a travelogue, which doesn't add a lot to the book; while Wolman speaks with some interesting people, he doesn't really suss out any major differences in the countries he visits to validate the expense account. The major observation he makes on this front is that, in some cases, less-developed countries can adopt technology faster than fully-industrialized countries--for example, the cell phone. This is an observation that has been made before, and I wasn't convinced it justified the leaps being made. Finally, Wolman does not exactly give the pro-cash camp a lot of credit. The first chapter opens with him speaking to an apocalyptic evangelical Christian, who worries that a cashless society represents the "Mark of the Beast" from Revelation. Which, okay. It isn't until the final chapter that he brings up the very legitimate questions of privacy, data security, and payment integrity, and then those concerns are blown off with "it's mostly criminals who care about people not knowing how they spend their money," and "we'll figure it out," respectively. Neither of these responses is likely to satisfy somebody raising these questions. One wonders whether this book would have been better at a third of the length and released as a Kindle Single. As it is, the topic deserves a more comprehensive treatment.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mark Hartzer

    I was prepared to hate this book. I'm a very firm believer in the value of cash, as opposed to 'money'. As JP Morgan once said, 'Gold is money. Everything else is credit.' There's a reason gold and silver have been in use for thousands of years. The Chinese word Yuan derives from the term, 'lump of silver'. Whether it be private banks or governments, the temptation to print or otherwise debase the currency appears inevitable. Anyway, Wolman (an editor for Wired magazine), attempts to avoid using I was prepared to hate this book. I'm a very firm believer in the value of cash, as opposed to 'money'. As JP Morgan once said, 'Gold is money. Everything else is credit.' There's a reason gold and silver have been in use for thousands of years. The Chinese word Yuan derives from the term, 'lump of silver'. Whether it be private banks or governments, the temptation to print or otherwise debase the currency appears inevitable. Anyway, Wolman (an editor for Wired magazine), attempts to avoid using cash (not money) for an entire year and by and large, is successful. Certain places like Sweden now conduct more of their business electronically instead the old fashioned method of exchanging physical currency. I very much enjoyed the chapter on how poor Indians now have the ability to transact electronically very small amounts. New technology definitely has the ability to transform the lives of poor people by way of mobile devices. What I did not enjoy was his use of several crackpots to illustrate die hard cash users. Far better sources could have been used to discuss/refute his premise that cash is dying. Anyone at the Gold Anti Trust Action Committee (www.gata.org) for example, would have been a far better source. Also, very little discussion (like zero) about what exactly is 'quantitative easing'. The Fed has flooded the world with digital ones and zeros representing dollars. Any self respecting book about cash and money should disclose that money, including cash, must not be printed willy nilly or risk a hyperinflationary event. A quick but flawed read. Not going to give up my cash just yet, thank you.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Moryl

    There's no real thesis, there are factual errors, there's a lot of hearsay, and Wolman chooses to focus primarily on tabloid-level characters rather than serious thinkers. There's nothing really insightful here about the future of money. On the plus side, it's modestly entertaining from time to time, but if you want insight into money, economics, or payments, it's pretty shallow. There's no real thesis, there are factual errors, there's a lot of hearsay, and Wolman chooses to focus primarily on tabloid-level characters rather than serious thinkers. There's nothing really insightful here about the future of money. On the plus side, it's modestly entertaining from time to time, but if you want insight into money, economics, or payments, it's pretty shallow.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    A good book, though not a must-read. Favorite quotes: In the uneconomically titled chapter of [Marco] Polo’s travelogue, “How the Great Kaan [Kublai Khan] causeth the bark of trees, made into something like paper, to pass for money all over his country,” he described the bizarre arrangement, this slight of hand that somehow wasn’t. Yet the explorer knew full well that for his readers back in Europe, the explanation would likely fall short. “For, tell it how I might, you never would be satisfied t A good book, though not a must-read. Favorite quotes: In the uneconomically titled chapter of [Marco] Polo’s travelogue, “How the Great Kaan [Kublai Khan] causeth the bark of trees, made into something like paper, to pass for money all over his country,” he described the bizarre arrangement, this slight of hand that somehow wasn’t. Yet the explorer knew full well that for his readers back in Europe, the explanation would likely fall short. “For, tell it how I might, you never would be satisfied that I was keeping within truth and reason!” I kid you not, Polo was saying. This paper money thing is out of this world. – p2 In (literally) cash-strapped Argentina, inflation and a scarcity of bills have recently forced some residents to line up at the bank the night before it opens, to be able to withdraw money the next morning.” – p46 By supplying us with cash, he says, governments enable the very evasion they wish to curb. – p51 [$100 bills] account for about 60 percent of notes in circulation. In 2010 alone, $268 billion worth of $100 bills were printed, the majority of which were or will soon be whisked overseas because that’s where most of the banks and drug dealers are demanding it. The Fed itself estimates that 90 percent of all C-notes have been sent to foreign banks, and most of those notes are no interest in repatriating. – p52 In Italy, off-the-books transactions rob the government of about E100 billion annually, or about 20 percent of the country’s GDP. For Greece, it’s over 27 percent. – p54 In Spain, the E500 note is nicknamed the “Bin Laden”: no one has ever seen one, but everyone knows what they look like. – p55 Money exchanges in the UK have stopped changing E500 notes after British investigators concluded that 90 percent of these notes within the country were being used domestically by—you guessed it—gangs, drug dealers, and money launderers. This was the rationale of non other than the U.S. Treasury when it decided in 1969 to stop issuing $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 notes. – p56 One curiosity about the banknote business is that some of the most high-tech physical money circulates in countries that can least afford it—places like Nigeria, Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Papua New Guinea, and Kazakhstan….Why is this? Not because criminals are lining up to counterfeit the Bangladeshi taka or the Nicaraguan cordoba, that’s for sure. One explanation is that manufactuers give poorer countries discounts in exchange for what equates to free advertising. The notes are mobile billboards, displaying the latest technology to central bank officials elsewhere. – p80 The denomination effect: The large number [1,000 bhat = $32] will trick you into thinking prices in Bangkok are steeper than they really are. As a result, Americans in Thailand are far more frugal than predictions of rational economics decision-making would suggest. What happens when the situation is reversed? Raghubir found that Americans transacting in Britain or Bahrain, countries where U.S. dollars are represented as a fraction of the local currency, spend more. – p95 Gifts in Japan: The custom is to give crisp new banknotes, except in the case of a condolence for the family of someone who has died. In that situation you have to give old banknotes, indicating to the recipients that you know this is not a happy time. – p98 One idea for the monetary future of the world is to nuke all but a few of the most influential currencies. It’s not as radical as it sounds. Panama, El Salvador, Ecuador, and East Timor have all officially adopted the U.S. dollar, and in countries from Uruguay to Cambodia, the Caribbean to the Caucuses, the dollar is accepted just as regularly, if not more so, than the local currency. – p105 Even [in foreign countries] where the local currency still reigns as far as officialdom is concerned, “spontaneous dollarization” is widespread. More than half of the bank deposits in Latin America are denominated in U.S. dollars. – p116-117 Investment guru Warren Buffet famously observed that gold “gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hold, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.” – p144 When I mention to people that we’ll soon just be texting money, they immediately worry….Luckily, humanity has a solid track record of warming to innovations, including money-related ones. Online payments provider PayPal once sounded precarious. Making a check deposit via ATM initially struck people as chancy, and, a century ago, holding a deposit certificate instead of a satchel full of coins was seen as wildly risky. – p182-183

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Dixon

    Good book on the future of money. Alternative currencies, especially ones of a digital variety, are coming en masse, and they'll probably be great. Even more so, they will be extremely accessible and beneficial to people all over the world, especially the poor, as Wulman convincingly argues. And possibly most consequential of all, the reign of national sovereign currencies, with the corruption, seigniorage, and devaluation that inevitably accompanies them, may at last come to an end. Good book on the future of money. Alternative currencies, especially ones of a digital variety, are coming en masse, and they'll probably be great. Even more so, they will be extremely accessible and beneficial to people all over the world, especially the poor, as Wulman convincingly argues. And possibly most consequential of all, the reign of national sovereign currencies, with the corruption, seigniorage, and devaluation that inevitably accompanies them, may at last come to an end.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Newman

    A quick and easy read, for "money" talk it had some humor and lots of interesting, and primarily useless, facts about the purpose, history, and use of money. It was interesting, at least for me, for Mr. Wolman to explore the potential impacts of moving to an all digital currency (such as Bitcoins, or others). From distribution and use benefits to the poor, to privacy and anonymity for all, a future cash-less society has many benefits but just as many pitfalls for broad and wide usage. It was also A quick and easy read, for "money" talk it had some humor and lots of interesting, and primarily useless, facts about the purpose, history, and use of money. It was interesting, at least for me, for Mr. Wolman to explore the potential impacts of moving to an all digital currency (such as Bitcoins, or others). From distribution and use benefits to the poor, to privacy and anonymity for all, a future cash-less society has many benefits but just as many pitfalls for broad and wide usage. It was also enlightening to think about the fact that the value of money is not in what it is backed by (government, gold, etc…), but by the value that the spender (holder) and the supplier (receiver) place on it as a means to transact. Although this is the basis of money from its start, this single purpose of money has a transformative effect on alternatives to the money that we use today (be it digital or some other type). Although the title is a bit sensational... Really? THE END OF MONEY… This is not a doom/gloom book as much as a way to prepare our current generation for the unavoidable changes that WILL be affecting our ability to trade/transact with one another in the future. Overall, I would recommend it as a "between" book read as it wasn't hard and it wasn't earth shattering either.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Somewhere there is an informative and accessible book about the end of paper money and coins, but it is not this book. The author is glib and doesn't seriously take into account any criticism of non-physical forms of money. He has a belief and idea in mind and goes on and on about it. He has a bit of stunt non-fiction (he goes without using money but rarely mentions this experiment), a travelogue (he visits Icelend, London, and Hawaii), and a bit of history. The biggest problem is that he also i Somewhere there is an informative and accessible book about the end of paper money and coins, but it is not this book. The author is glib and doesn't seriously take into account any criticism of non-physical forms of money. He has a belief and idea in mind and goes on and on about it. He has a bit of stunt non-fiction (he goes without using money but rarely mentions this experiment), a travelogue (he visits Icelend, London, and Hawaii), and a bit of history. The biggest problem is that he also ignores any criticism of problems with regional currency (the Euro), digital currency (Bitcoins), and so on and sort of ridicules people who still use physical money. The only person we meet in defense of phyical money is a religous man who that its demise is a sign of the end of the world. He insists on calling money germy throughout the book, despite having a CDC research tell him that no one could get sick from money unless people started using dollars as handerchiefs. I felt like he was so wedded to his belief in a future without money that he really didn't focus on the other side of the argument of why it was still useful.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Boris Limpopo

    Wolman, David (2012). The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers – and the Coming Cashless Society. Boston: Da Capo Press. 2012. ISBN 9780306819469. Pagine 240. 12,83 € Una delle prime cose da dire su questo libro, è che il titolo è un po’ fuorviante. Non si dovrebbe chiamare The End of Money, ma The End of Cash – Non La fine del denaro, ma La fine del contante: questo è quello che l’autore ha fatto (con successo quasi totale) per un anno intero, e questo è il tema che svilupp Wolman, David (2012). The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers – and the Coming Cashless Society. Boston: Da Capo Press. 2012. ISBN 9780306819469. Pagine 240. 12,83 € Una delle prime cose da dire su questo libro, è che il titolo è un po’ fuorviante. Non si dovrebbe chiamare The End of Money, ma The End of Cash – Non La fine del denaro, ma La fine del contante: questo è quello che l’autore ha fatto (con successo quasi totale) per un anno intero, e questo è il tema che sviluppa nei diversi capitoli. C’è un sentore di gonzo journalism nel libro: ogni capitolo è segnato dall’incontro con un personaggio, spesso (ma non sempre) un estremista fanatico, detrattore o profeta di un futuro senza contante. A tratti, David Wolman sembra un Hunter S. Thompson senza additivi chimici. Direi che è piuttosto chiaro che a Wolman il contante non piace – è proprio la fisicità del danaro che gli fa un po’ schifo. A me fa venire in mente un carissimo zio, morto ahimè da quasi vent’anni, che faceva il farmacista in un paese della bassa, che raccontava che la sera del martedì, giorno di mercato, giorno dunque di massimo affollamento della farmacia e dunque di maggiore incasso, gli piaceva prendere dal cassetto le banconote stropicciate e aspirarne l’odore. «Puzzano proprio di merda,» mi diceva, tutto compiaciuto (perché a lui i soldi piacevano anche nella loro materialità). E non pensava certo a Freud (che sicuramente non aveva letto) e nemmeno alla ragione più ovvia (quelle mani di allevatori che le avevano toccate mandavano un inesorabile odore di merda di vacca e concime, che non andava via neppure dopo accurati lavacri): pensava piuttosto a un mistico richiamo allo “sterco del diavolo” della tradizione cristiana (anche se mi sembra che sia una definizione di Martin Lutero). Scrooge McDuck wikipedia.org Il libro di Wolman è piacevole e si fa leggere volentieri (qualche momento di stanchezza e qualche ripetizione c’è, a ricordarti che l’industria culturale statunitense ha delle regole inesorabili). L’elemento di maggio interesse, per noi, è che contribuisce a chiarire i termini del dibattito che in Italia si è aperto quando il governo Monti ha (re)introdotto un tetto alle transazioni in contanti, che il governo Berlusconi aveva invece innalzato (una dei primissimi provvedimenti dopo essere tornato al potere nel 2008 dopo la breve parentesi di Prodi). Naturalmente – in Italia come negli Stati Uniti – un cavallo di battaglia della destra è che il contante è libertà economica (e anzi libertà tout court, quanto meno nell’accezione di “libertà di fare quello che ci pare e piace”) e che gli altri mezzi di pagamento, più agevolmente “tracciabili”, sono un gravame sul libero scambio e soprattutto un’incarnazione tra le più odiose del “grande fratello” nella sua versione stalinista. [Dave Birch, direttore di Hyperion Consulting ed evangelista delle transazioni elettroniche, dice la parola definitiva sull'argomento: «People say anonymity is an advantage of cash, but what they really want is privacy.»] [Va da sé che stiamo anche sommersi dalla fuffa e dalle lacrime di coccodrillo: tutto per farci credere che le vere vittime delle restrizioni nell'uso del contante erano i pensionati. Mentre Wolfan ci illustra molto chiaramente che in realtà il contante è un nemico dei poveri – lo chiarisce molto bene nella video-intervista che riporto sotto.] Una seconda, apparentemente più meditata, linea di opposizione a ogni limitazione delle transazioni in contanti faceva leva sull’argomentazione che i mezzi di pagamento digitali costano: Il riferimento era, per esempio, alle commissioni bancarie e a quelle applicate alle transazioni con le carte di credito. E naturalmente, la confusione (e non si sa mai se creata ad arte, per influenzare il popolo bue e ignorante, o se veramente i nostri giornalisti e politici sono così sprovveduti) era tra i costi e i benefici economici, e tra chi li pagava e ne godeva. Perché il costo delle commissioni è il risultato della forza contrattuale relativa della banca o dell’operatore finanziario, da una parte, e del cittadino o dell’impresa, dall’altra. Mentre il costo “reale” dell’uso del contante sopportato dall’economia e dalla società nel loro complesso è molto elevato. Wolman lo spiega molto bene in questa conversazione pubblicata da Gizmodo (Let’s Kill Cash: Q&A With Author David Wolman on Our Moneyless Future): Everyone always thinks cash is cheap and fast and safe. It’s not cheap, and it’s not fast, and it’s not safe! It can seem to be fast. If I owe you a ten dollars lunch and we’re sitting right there, and I give you the ten dollar bill, that is fast. But if you unpack that a little, to do that you have to make that ten available in an ATM from which you withdrew it, you have to secure the building that has that ATM and to make sure that money is circulating back to a place where it can be inspected so ensure it’s not deteriorated too much and has to be pulled from circulation. Every concentric circle outward, there are all these greater and greater costs. Distributing, inspecting, securing, reinspecting, threading, reissuing. And then eight years later, say we need some souped up security features. So let’s redesign and then we can reissue and reprint and reinspect and ship it all out again in our Belgian cash trucks. It’s one of those things—and that was why I wanted to do this project and the kind of writing I’m excited about—that’s staring you in the face and hiding in plain sight. E per chi vuole approfondire l’argomento, segnalo l’articolo del 2004 di Daniel D. Garcia Swartz, Robert W. Hahn e Anne Layne-Ferrar, The Economics of a Cashless Society: An Analysis of the Costs and Benefits of Payment Instruments. Se volete vedere che faccia ha David Wolman, ecco una sua intervista di presentazione del libro: * * * Qualche citazione. Il riferimento è come di consueto alle posizioni sul Kindle: In God we better trust. [399] Cash is a black hole for tax revenue. [854] Noncompliance, or taxes not paid, can result from underreporting (accidental or intentional), underpayment (accidental or intentional), and nonfiling (accidental or intentional […] [876] The Wall Street Journal reported in July 2010: “Gangsters, drug dealers and money launderers appear to be playing their part in helping shore up the financial stability of the euro zone. That is thanks to their demand, according to European authorities, for high-denomination euro bank notes, in particular the €200 and €500 bills. The European Central Bank issues these notes for a hefty profit that is welcome at a time when its response to the financial crisis has called its financial strength into question.” Banking executives as mainstream as Citigroup’s chief economist have taken note of the euro’s role as “currency of choice for underground and black economies.” [922] One such forger was William Chaloner, an enterprising seventeenth-century British charlatan and sex-toy salesman. After his capture and conviction by Sir Isaac Newton, then head of the Royal Mint, Chaloner was hanged, drawn, and quartered. [1009] That warring countries try to exploit paper money’s fragile worth is a reminder that without a supply of authentic cash—and trust in it—countries fall apart. Most money may be digital nowadays, but I don’t think anyone wants to run the experiment of obliterating the integrity of the greenback with a massive flood of fakes to see just how uncritical paper money’s trustworthiness has become. Do we really want to eliminate one of the last remaining tactile symbols that ties us together as one nation, under God, transacting peacefully? [1042] The technology quest must be fun for the engineers, but I feel sorry for the cops and central bankers who have to spend their careers speaking out of both sides of their mouths. They have to make us simultaneously vigilant about counterfeits and ignorant of them. Put another way: Please keep a sharp eye out for this threat, even though it isn’t a threat because we have everything under control. Our currency is totally trustworthy. [1284] A tax incorporated into a price tag on supermarket shelves makes us more frugal, whereas an equivalent tax added at checkout is virtually ignored. [1431] Cash and electronic money may both be liquid, but they differ in their degree of slipperiness […] [1453] Words, a dictionary editor once told me, are a palimpsest. Their etymologies contain the shadows of words and people from ages past. [1707] Money and currency don’t discriminate between what we might describe as real versus virtual currencies, the way an online avatar is virtual but a hole in your roof is real. Currency is simply that which is accepted as payment, and its legitimacy and global reach is only limited by the extent of that acceptability. [2199] […] money is really more like a verb than a noun […] [2249] People say anonymity is an advantage of cash, but what they really want is privacy. [2915] There is no perfect equilibrium between the individual need for privacy and government interest in information. The best we can do is try to engineer systems that are as fair as possible and chockablock with checks and balances. [2932] C’è anche qualche buffo errore (Caucuses per Caucasus [1655]) e qualche curiosità che fa sorridere (i figli di Bernard von NotHaus si chiamano Random e Xtra! [1981]), ma anche qualche errore un po’ più grave: “100 kWh is how much energy you need – exactly – to keep a 100-watt light bulb illuminated for 100 hours.” [2123: spiacente, per 1000 ore!] * * * Anche in questo caso ho “curato” una pagina di recensioni del libro su Scoop.it – The End of Money.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Littrell

    If you think you understand money... Think again, and read this book. I don’t have any doubt that the cashless society, as Wolman predicts, is coming. We’ve been anticipating it for a long time. In a science fiction novel I wrote decades ago the society used digital “points” that were kept track of by the totalitarian government. You got points for being productive or doing what society wanted and you lost points for being unproductive or doing what society didn’t like. You got an allotment at var If you think you understand money... Think again, and read this book. I don’t have any doubt that the cashless society, as Wolman predicts, is coming. We’ve been anticipating it for a long time. In a science fiction novel I wrote decades ago the society used digital “points” that were kept track of by the totalitarian government. You got points for being productive or doing what society wanted and you lost points for being unproductive or doing what society didn’t like. You got an allotment at various times in your life and if you went broke you were forcibly made productive or else... Perhaps the best feature of a cashless society: less crime. Another nice feature: no sharing of germs on bills. Digital cash harbors no bacteria (but watch out for viruses). But Wolman’s main argument to hasten us toward the end of money is that cash is expensive. It costs money to make cash (and guess who pays?). And you can lose cash or get it taken from you. And then there is all that we pay to fight counterfeiting. Wolman has a nice chapter on who makes the funny money and how sometimes it is better than the “real” thing and increasingly impossible to detect unless you are an expert. One more aside: in the 70s I wrote a short story about a guy who passed one-dollar bills, called “Garbage Sam and the Bill Passer” (included in my short story collection available at Amazon). The bills were made by the “Red Chinese” but Wolman shows us that in the real world of today the main culprits are the North Koreans who are counterfeiting the Yankee dollar so perfectly that they have cost the US billions of dollars—well, that would be the Yankee hundred dollar bill. Surprisingly the most important expense associated with using cash is the inconvenience. This is especially true for the lower rungs of society. And Wolman is not just talking about usurious payday advances. First there’s the time and effort needed to pay out and count bills and coins. This may not seem like much unless you work in a convenience store or a bank, but actually compared to flashing your phone at merchant it is life in the very slow lane. And if you’re the merchant cash can be troublesome because you have to take measures to make sure your employees are not dipping into the till, and of course you have to get that cash to the bank. And for society as a whole, cash businesses sorely tempt the honest to cheat on their income taxes. Add up all that slowness and...well, time is money. Worldwide the difference goes into the billions of dollars, euros, yuans, etc. Okay, Wolman makes his argument and at least I’m convinced. So why aren’t all the reviews of this book glowing? It’s certainly well written and imminently readable with flashes of sparkling prose and a lot of interesting information. Reason number one: some people fear the coming of the cashless society as just another step toward totalitarianism. (They are right, but nothing can stop that except a reversion to a more primitive way of life, probably via the breakdown of society...but that’s another story.) Another reason is that the gold bugs and Fed haters don’t like to read about the virtues of fiat money, which Wolman celebrates. And finally some people might think that Wolman wanders a bit afield in some of the chapters, perhaps most especially in the last two chapters. The adventure in India in Chapter 7 with mobile digital money, while germane, could be seen as a bit drawn out. And the diversion at the Coin and Currency Show in Portland, Oregon in the Chapter 8 might appear tacked on. However I think those last two chapters, while not as interesting as the earlier ones, each served a purpose. In India Wolman showed us why it is the poor and the average person who is estranged from the plastic and digital money that we take for granted who will be best served by the death of cash. And among the numismatics in the final chapter we can see why it is psychologically hard for many people to part with the beauty, romance and history of bills and coins. However, as Wolman quotes a coin collector as saying, “If change means no more coins, then no more coins. Besides, I collect backwards in history, not forwards.” (p. 199) —Dennis Littrell, author of “The World Is Not as We Think It Is”

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Lu

    Outstanding book about the future of hard currency, very well written and laden with dryly humorous remarks that keeps it entertaining and all the while wholly educational. Prior to picking up this book, I was very much a supporter of eliminating hard currency as a means of financial exchange tender for reasons of efficiency and reducing corruption/criminality. Wolman has now convinced me of another 7 or 8 reasons as to why this is a good idea. Of course the big question is the how� replace with Outstanding book about the future of hard currency, very well written and laden with dryly humorous remarks that keeps it entertaining and all the while wholly educational. Prior to picking up this book, I was very much a supporter of eliminating hard currency as a means of financial exchange tender for reasons of efficiency and reducing corruption/criminality. Wolman has now convinced me of another 7 or 8 reasons as to why this is a good idea. Of course the big question is the how� replace with a completely digital currency? I think no � this eases the efficiency and traceability question, but does nothing to settle some of the other issues such as seignorage. Replace with a digital currency that in itself has intrinsic value that is useful to every person in this world? Now you�re getting somewhere, but what is it that intrinsically has value� mobile phone minutes? Water reserves? That gets easily back into the corruption realm again. I�m glad to say that between guys like Ignacio Mas at the Gates Foundation and numerous entrepreneurs such as Abhishek Sinha of Eko financial services in India there are a lot of very smart people out there thinking about this. 1st chapter � the missionary, about the biblical perspective of evangelicals who quote a passage from the craziest of all chapters in Revelations, forseeing the coming of Satan when cash has gone away. Granted, John the Greek was referring to when we are in an apocalyptic state where the only thing of value are things themselves and we�ll be bartering for goods without any type of currency� but nonetheless enough to cause those who see (or want to see) the coming of the plastic revolution as a sign of Armageddon. If there was ever a reason to keep hard currency, this was not it. Highlight of this chapter was definitely being introduced to the Georgia Guidestones: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_... 2nd chapter � the messenger, where we meet David Birch, an anti-cash maniac. Here we learn about the immense practical negatives of cash: the amount of bacteria and germs transmitted by them, huge amount of pollutants and environmental impacts caused by the rare metals that go into coins, as well as the obvious: how cash, which eliminates a paper trail, is the tool of use for gangsters, drug dealers, money launderers, and tax-evaders. 3rd chapter- the counterfeiters, where we learn about the immense costs spent by governments towards anti-counterfeiting measures. All of which are futile, since criminals (North Korean government included) will always be able to surpass any technology eventually� and the average lay person will have zero ability to discern if a bill is counterfeit or not. Eventually that task will be the responsibility of the banks when they are turned in, which gives no incentive for anyone with a counterfeit bill to turn in a complete loss. Granted it�s true that moving towards some type of digital medium would not solve the issue of counterfeiting, and possibly make it even worse. 4th chapter � the loyalists, talks about those who are incentivized to keep cash. Mainly governments, who receive a huge amount of financial benefit in keeping legal tender which they can print and charge for its usage. Despite what tea partiers believe that cash is what keeps government out of prying into the financial transaction details of your life, by continuing to spend cash is what keeps government afloat by enabling each transaction to benefit the treasury department though seigniorage (cost of treasury securities production, tax on holdings since the paper itself has no value other than what it can be exchanged for). Why is the US currency so strong? Do others hold onto it as a stable source because it is strong, or is it strong because others hold onto it as a stable source? Chicken/egg? Former always cited, although people forget the decision made in 1944 by the IMF to make the dollar the universal standard for international finance transactions� imagine if the pound sterling was at the time decided, then would have had quite a different impact. Also quite a bit of discussion about the psychology of cash that is really quite interesting. Holding physical money has a pretty major neurological impact, that seeing a bank statement just does not provide. 5th chapter � the patriot, chapter about those who believe that having a currency is a necessary part of national identity. Historical feeling upon time of EU formation was that to be a country you needed your own airline, bank, and currency (although now those 3 are failing in reverse order). Largely dispelled by the author, since nobody can deny that France has lost their unique culture by adopting the Euro? We also learn about the monopoly that a number of private companies hold over the rights to supply ink, cotton, etc. to the mint of various countries. 6th chapter � the traitor, those who are trying to create alternative forms of payment. Brings up a few who are creating silver standard coins for tender, nothing illegal about what they are trying to do but has not been effective since nobody accepts. Mentions the Ithaca HOUR among others that have been successful since their objective is to spur purchases all within the local economy. Get a discount if you pay with the Ithaca HOUR, but only for purchases that are made locally and reciprocally helpful then. Also interesting in that this chapter introduces us to such Andy Kaufmann-esque characters as the artist JSG Boggs who was famed for painting replicas of US currency, which he would then sell to others as art for oh say, about the exact amount as the legal tender which he was drawing. Technically nothing illegal about what he had done, since he was not creating counterfeit bills for the purpose� unquestionably odd nonetheless. 7th chapter � the revolutionaries, those who are trying to spur a technological breakthrough towards digital cash. By far my favorite chapter of the book. Cites examples of paypal as the early pioneer, and now movements such as M-pesa in Kenya, or Eko mobile banking in India. Talks about how using cash-only transactions hurts those who are at the lowest end of the economic spectrum, as we all know from the predatory tactics of payday loan houses who prevent savings accounts from being held. For those in 3rd world nations who have little other option is the most impactful, given the enormous difficulty in saving and security in storage and transfer. What would be a better means of currency then, perhaps mobile phone minutes (among pre-pay users who represent most of the world), since that is in itself a commodity that has value? Already being adopted widely in India, and enables saving; a few who use it do not mind paying the fees since much more convenient and secure than cash. Eye-opening statistic in that $19MMM/year in cash is flown into Iraq per year in order to pay for the cost of military construction, which represents 20% of Iraq�s annual GDP. With no traceability, how much of that same cash was stolen and used to pay for terrorism? The ongoing battle between security and privacy here, and it seems like most are willing to have a traceable currency if it means less corruption and stealing. 8th chapter � the emissary, where he visits a coin collectors convention and sells his father�s old coins for $400� a summary realization that the value of money is only what you can buy with it, for which he will gladly trade the odd pieces of metal in his hands to finance a trip to the amusement park with his son. That is money well spent.

  11. 5 out of 5

    YHC

    Wolman wrote this book to show his opinions about why we should abolish "cash", the title of the book is "The end of money", but he actually thinks we should no longer use cash. He pointed out how eco unfriendly to make paper money, coins, with the regular renew system, many trees should be chopped down. The pollution with the chain fabrication of paper money and coins are actually a lot. He also think money is the most dirty thing in the world, it carries all kind of bacteria and circulated aro Wolman wrote this book to show his opinions about why we should abolish "cash", the title of the book is "The end of money", but he actually thinks we should no longer use cash. He pointed out how eco unfriendly to make paper money, coins, with the regular renew system, many trees should be chopped down. The pollution with the chain fabrication of paper money and coins are actually a lot. He also think money is the most dirty thing in the world, it carries all kind of bacteria and circulated around the world without knowing what kind of diseases it could actually have. Cash is expensive, because we need to build up the whole system such as ATM, cashier...etc in order to fulfill the usage of cash. He mentioned about he experienced a year without using cash simply lived with credit card, but then he pointed out how dangerous to live with credit cards, because we end up using more than we have in the bank. The problem of counterfeit never ends, the money laundry prospers with the cash, so does the not paying tax goes with cash usage. So he personally think cash causes a lot of problems. So what is the solution?? he doesn't really have, but the alternative payments have already shown up: Pay with your cell phone. alternative currencies....After all, most people still need cash to live, we won't have a magic pill to solve money problem anyway.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eduard

    2.5 Stars. It was ok. Interesting for the layman and common sense where currency is heading. Everything is digitized and automated these days and only getting more so. Money also. How often do you use cash? For most people it is rarely. Governments like this so they can track every cent. Technization of money is bad for money laundering as everything is trackable. I hope cash doesn't 100% dissapear. This book will give you some interesting tidbits. Better to do the audiobook for this than spend 2.5 Stars. It was ok. Interesting for the layman and common sense where currency is heading. Everything is digitized and automated these days and only getting more so. Money also. How often do you use cash? For most people it is rarely. Governments like this so they can track every cent. Technization of money is bad for money laundering as everything is trackable. I hope cash doesn't 100% dissapear. This book will give you some interesting tidbits. Better to do the audiobook for this than spend the time reading it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    I would recommend Bitcoin: the future of money and The Age of Cryptocurrency over this. I would recommend Bitcoin: the future of money and The Age of Cryptocurrency over this.

  14. 5 out of 5

    ReadBecca

    Pretty solid, mildly snarky journey through the problems of cash and why the future is cashless. As someone who is already into futurism, none of the topics were new to me in here both the arguments for cash that are knocked down and the benefits of moving away from fiat, however I knew it was bad yet definitely wasn't aware exactly how much of a hassle maintaining cash is for governments that is more fully explained here. Pretty solid, mildly snarky journey through the problems of cash and why the future is cashless. As someone who is already into futurism, none of the topics were new to me in here both the arguments for cash that are knocked down and the benefits of moving away from fiat, however I knew it was bad yet definitely wasn't aware exactly how much of a hassle maintaining cash is for governments that is more fully explained here.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Although this book is a little dated, my edition being ten years old (picked it up at the library book sale) I enjoyed reading it and it gave me plenty to think about. I especially enjoyed the chapter that gave a lot of good reasons to get rid of cash altogether, a polarising notion.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gustavo Lichtenberger

    This book is ok. If you have an interest in money, how it is evolving and some potential alternatives, then read it. Don't get discouraged early on as the book gets better. This book is ok. If you have an interest in money, how it is evolving and some potential alternatives, then read it. Don't get discouraged early on as the book gets better.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matt Gosney

    Good read, felt it was going to be a good conversation starter at a party... it wasn't. The prospect of having a chip in my hand to pay for everything, it means I can be tracked! I am hoping this chip under our skin becomes a stale idea. Good read, felt it was going to be a good conversation starter at a party... it wasn't. The prospect of having a chip in my hand to pay for everything, it means I can be tracked! I am hoping this chip under our skin becomes a stale idea.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brittney

    Very funny

  19. 5 out of 5

    Adam Peterson

    Generation Z will live in cashless and more transparent society.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Fred Ayres

    Great look into how paper currency is increasingly giving way to electronic forms of money.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Taddesse

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Cash has a mystical effect on people, against reason as governments spend billions to maintain a system that may have its days numbered

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rhnair

    Let me begin by an amazing coincidence. Just as I finished the book today (Oct 25, 14), I read this news item in a leading Indian newspaper “Sweden goes cashless: A news report shows that four out of every five purchases in Sweden are paoid for electronically or by card.. The local reports that Swedes are using electronic payment 260 times per person per year. Electronic payments as Swish are bypassing the ATM for cash. While going cash free comes with an increase in security cost, its more than Let me begin by an amazing coincidence. Just as I finished the book today (Oct 25, 14), I read this news item in a leading Indian newspaper “Sweden goes cashless: A news report shows that four out of every five purchases in Sweden are paoid for electronically or by card.. The local reports that Swedes are using electronic payment 260 times per person per year. Electronic payments as Swish are bypassing the ATM for cash. While going cash free comes with an increase in security cost, its more than offset by drop in cash handling costs. In Sweden, the cash handling costs are estimated to be around $1.2 billion or 0.3% of the GDP. And according to Swedish Bankers Association, armed robbers are finding themselves out of job. Just five bank robberies were reported in 2012, Sweden’s lowest rate in 30 years”. The above news item is a testimonial that David’s view points on going cashless is quite spot on.. And while the subject per se is quite drab, but he has added substantial wit and humor to it to keep the reader interested. While generally such books revolve around the financial capitals of the world, his choice of destination Iceland, Hawai makes the discussion very interesting. The reference to the three identities of a nation - airlines, currency and stock exchange was an interesting paradox being brought out. While it is clear that David is a die hard supporter of going cashless, but the way he brings in some support for local community currency was heartening. Yes, it may not go a very long way given the ways commercial boundaries are no longer subservient to geographical boundaries, but definitely the thought is very interesting. The role of cash in political arena seems to have been totally missed out in this book. I am not sure whether it was a deliberate miss. However, it would have been interesting to postulate the outcome of not having cash on the electoral outcomes. In many countries, the cash factor does cause some swing in the fortunes. So, going cashless would worry the politicians quite much. As regards the Gods who would be bereft of the offerings, I am sure they are already quite sick of it and would actually welcome it. It is the godman who would lose his sleep. I would highly recommend this book and more so adoption of this. Just that the title should have been “End of Cash” rather than “money”.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brett Matthews

    David Wolman's book is definitely not worth reading. The first problem is painfully basic: he is not arguing for the end of money at all, just the end of paper money (that is,cash), via a transformation into digital money. Money has been with us for many thousands of years, at least since the emergence of tokens in Mesopotamia. Paper money is a relative newcomer in the story of how humans have stored and exchanged value -- a product of the rise of mass literacy triggered by Gutenberg. Even his a David Wolman's book is definitely not worth reading. The first problem is painfully basic: he is not arguing for the end of money at all, just the end of paper money (that is,cash), via a transformation into digital money. Money has been with us for many thousands of years, at least since the emergence of tokens in Mesopotamia. Paper money is a relative newcomer in the story of how humans have stored and exchanged value -- a product of the rise of mass literacy triggered by Gutenberg. Even his argument for an end to cash is not well thought out. Certainly cash will disappear eventually, but like the newspapers that have followed a similar historic trajectory, paper money has been an enduring success for good reasons. The emergence and evolution of paper money has been accompanied by a deep and far-reaching evolution of human behavior and skills related to exchange, value and time in the modern world. Even today over a billion adults, mostly in the villages of the developing world, have little access to our modern economy. Paper money is one of the only links they (and their children) have to these modern human practices and skills. Far from seeing this, David Wolman briefly visits urban India and on this basis proclaims that cash “is most harmful to the billions of people who have so little of it.” Most of India's 800 million or so poor people live in the villages and rural towns (which Wolman does not report having visited). He concludes that the only real users of cash are money launderers, drug cartels and tax dodgers -- but even he admits that these individuals mostly use very large value denominations -- not the denominations used by poor villagers. By putting an end to cash we would in practice burn one of the most important bridges linking the poorest quarter of the world's populations to the modern world before they have crossed it. It is unfortunate that a topic as serious as the relationship between cash and poverty could be so tackled so flippantly.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Loren

    Pretty simple. You must be some sort of religious wacko fringe nutjob (or a criminal) if you think a cashless society is the end of freedom. Sadly so few have a firm grasp of the entirety of human history that they don't even realize that our way of life today, this military industrial complex, is a very new thing and his argument holds no water. The majority of human history was spent as hunters/gatherers where all monetary systems were irrelevant. This becomes new information to readers along Pretty simple. You must be some sort of religious wacko fringe nutjob (or a criminal) if you think a cashless society is the end of freedom. Sadly so few have a firm grasp of the entirety of human history that they don't even realize that our way of life today, this military industrial complex, is a very new thing and his argument holds no water. The majority of human history was spent as hunters/gatherers where all monetary systems were irrelevant. This becomes new information to readers along with all other tidbits he provides. And even at the cradle of civilization to now, which makes only the last 5%, the beginnings of the domestication of animals and putting seed to soil, the majority of us thought nothing of sharing our food with the minority of politicians, priests, guards and militia that ran our governments and kept us safer, mentally, physically & spiritually so. Then came industry. Like the length of the MMA Sport promising to give us a "no holds barred option," but instead it comes around flipping over all our cultural norms since the beginning of time, like the biological need for mothers to be mothers, the respect & honor once held with such a position and men required to be actual men, the single breadwinners of a nuclear family household, to love through protection and fulfilling needs. Although a single world government is inevitable just like the morphication of one slave economy for another, we can decide what kind of new system we will have. Designing systems that do not even anticipate the possibility of new infinite energies and create the necessity of "have & have nots" is a bit of a problem. Unfortunately the big picture is not addressed here. Just old arguments by new robots shooting the crap in Starbucks. Next!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Crystal

    the book should really be titled "the end of cash", not money. david wolman makes a very compelling case for the world without physical cash. he's not advocating for a bartering system, he understands the need to standardize costs. and he's not advocating for a plastic system, either. well, not totally plastic, anyway. you know when you go out to eat with a large group of friends, and the bill comes, and you realize you don't have cash? you know those phone apps that allow you to send money from the book should really be titled "the end of cash", not money. david wolman makes a very compelling case for the world without physical cash. he's not advocating for a bartering system, he understands the need to standardize costs. and he's not advocating for a plastic system, either. well, not totally plastic, anyway. you know when you go out to eat with a large group of friends, and the bill comes, and you realize you don't have cash? you know those phone apps that allow you to send money from your debit account to your buddy's, since he so graciously paid your cashless-asses way through? or that allows your other cashless friends to send you money directly since you so graciously put up your card. well, this is one part of the solution david wolman submits. interestingly, david wolman also looks at the other side, the arguments of the people who want to keep cash around. a lot of this comes off as very naive, like thinking crime will cut back because all transactions are electronic, and therefore recorded. umm, bit coins, anyone? data encryption? cyber crime in general? another money exchanging app who's developers include some form of anonymity? just examples. there's a TON more information, questions, and food for thought in this book. no matter which side you stand on, this was an incredibly interesting read, and i definitely want to finish it. i only got about half way through before i left it somewhere for about a week, and by the time i got it back, i was engrossed in other books. but if the second half is anything like the first half, i will be looking forward to picking it up again.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I found this book well-written and amusing but the main thesis is not new to me. I did learn a few things for example, I did not know that it was illegal to destroy national currency: " ...burning banknotes would violate the section of Title 18 of the U.S. Code prohibiting “mutilation of national bank obligations.” You may be able to marshal a free-speech defense... " I've also never considered the opinion from the opposing camp, in favor of alternative currencies, that alternative money can potenti I found this book well-written and amusing but the main thesis is not new to me. I did learn a few things for example, I did not know that it was illegal to destroy national currency: " ...burning banknotes would violate the section of Title 18 of the U.S. Code prohibiting “mutilation of national bank obligations.” You may be able to marshal a free-speech defense... " I've also never considered the opinion from the opposing camp, in favor of alternative currencies, that alternative money can potentially be good for the environment: "The philosophy behind alternative currencies is the financial equivalent of eating locally. By focusing consumption on food grown or raised nearby, you reduce, or at least get to say you reduce, bad things like factory farming and greenhouse gas emissions, while also eating fresher food and supporting local businesses." But overall, I am in favor of the authors verdict: "...I worry that so much slandering of the national currency will create a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy of undermining it, when it fact it may be the best system we could ever come up with. And it goes without saying that I disagree with the idea of reverting to some old form of physical money."

  27. 5 out of 5

    John

    Is cash over? David Wolman would clearly like it to be for hygiene reasons if nothing else. The much remarked mis-title coveres a meditation on the history of both money and cash and the possibility that cash is coming to an end as a useful technology. That, it turns out, is only a tiny part of it. From those who believe abandoning paper money is a sin to those who see it as only fit for criminal activities the meanings people place on cash are diverse to put it mildly. It is clear that cash is Is cash over? David Wolman would clearly like it to be for hygiene reasons if nothing else. The much remarked mis-title coveres a meditation on the history of both money and cash and the possibility that cash is coming to an end as a useful technology. That, it turns out, is only a tiny part of it. From those who believe abandoning paper money is a sin to those who see it as only fit for criminal activities the meanings people place on cash are diverse to put it mildly. It is clear that cash is in decline and that card chips and mobile phones are often realistic alternatives. A particularly fascinating section covers the ease with which some developing countries, lacking all the comforting trappings of ATMs, crispy new notes, bank branches and card readers are switching to payment by mobile. Running this by my British friends usually results in puzzlement or horror. In the I don't quite buy the overall thesis and it's hard to see cash going entirely for quite a while yet. If I find myself tipping a busker with a mobile though I might be persuaded to think again.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Wolman does a great job of presenting in detail all of the numerous pitfalls and problems surrounding cash, but does little, if anything, to offer any viable alternatives or solutions. True, cash in and of itself is worthless, but it is the guarantee of the government that it does have worth, and our faith in that promise that gives it any value... Admittedly, Wolman has some other valid and compelling arguments against cash. Cash is certainly costly to produce and distribute, as well as prone t Wolman does a great job of presenting in detail all of the numerous pitfalls and problems surrounding cash, but does little, if anything, to offer any viable alternatives or solutions. True, cash in and of itself is worthless, but it is the guarantee of the government that it does have worth, and our faith in that promise that gives it any value... Admittedly, Wolman has some other valid and compelling arguments against cash. Cash is certainly costly to produce and distribute, as well as prone to fraud, theft, and counterfeiting... all of which are perfectly true. However, the other truth about cash is that our faith in its value is intertwined with our faith in the value of the dollar it represents. If we de-value cash, or over-emphasize its worthlessness, it could shake the foundation of faith to be credited for the relative stability of the value of the good ole USD. And much to Wolman's chagrin, I think cash is so wholly integrated into our psyche that doing away with it entirely as he suggests won't be feasible for a very, very long time... if ever.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    In my continuing quest to read more non-ficiton, I am finding that the more I read it, the more I want more. Hmmm. This one is more of an extended personal essay written by a guy with political leanings that veer left. He takes the interesting idea of going without cash for an entire year, and then picks a couple of points to investigate more deeply. As someone who uses that debit card for smaller and smaller purchases, and who thinks it looks cool to point the phone to share information, I can In my continuing quest to read more non-ficiton, I am finding that the more I read it, the more I want more. Hmmm. This one is more of an extended personal essay written by a guy with political leanings that veer left. He takes the interesting idea of going without cash for an entire year, and then picks a couple of points to investigate more deeply. As someone who uses that debit card for smaller and smaller purchases, and who thinks it looks cool to point the phone to share information, I can see how this idea of tangible money could be diminishing in importance and use. My favorite part was when he looked into how some poor countries have leap-frogged over brick and mortar banks to allow very poor people to use banking services - allowing for ease of money transfer as well of savings. With cell phones cheap and ubiquitous,it is happening! The chapters on counterfeiting as well as the right-wing conspiracy paranoia on how the gov'ment might be tracing electronic transfers were less riveting, but still thought-provoking.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John Jose

    This book has all the problems of a book that tries to focus on one thing, but deviates too much. It's informative but writer's attempt to make it interesting by adding quirky little details has failed miserably. Still a good book to know some facts about cash. Especially to someone who is wondering what would be the result of demonetization in India. This book has all the problems of a book that tries to focus on one thing, but deviates too much. It's informative but writer's attempt to make it interesting by adding quirky little details has failed miserably. Still a good book to know some facts about cash. Especially to someone who is wondering what would be the result of demonetization in India.

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