The Future of Money: A Voyage Through Time and Space
Bernardo Batiz-Lazo and
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Leonidas Efthymiou: UNICAF - Intercollege Larnaca
No 16003, Working Papers from Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales)
In this paper we look backwards and sideways to ascertain elements that are likely to determine the future of cash as well as cashless payment systems. Our analysis begins in medieval Europe while examining how legal tender and fiat money was imposed on people during the primitive accumulation era (Marx,  2015). Primitive accumulation marks the transition to a market economy. Paper money played a central role in the transformation of socio-economic relations as part of the imposition of wage labour upon self-producing, self-sufficient and self-provisioning populations. But primitive accumulation has been conceived as more than just a period of transition that led to the development of capitalistic socio-economic relations, to encompass a set of forces that permanently reproduce accumulation and capital’s existence (Bonefeld, 2001; Dalla Costa & Dalla Costa, 1995; De Angelis, 2001; Perelman, 2001). Following this broader conception of primitive accumulation, we trace practices in Fordism and post-Fordism to explain how the emergence of a cashless/checkless economy results not only technological change and a drive for cost efficiency within financial institutions, but also results from economic restructuring, labour de-skilling and general changes in the social and cultural landscape. We content that market forces as well as government policy have contributed to the diffusion and adoption of cashless means of payment, within an intensifying automation and mobilisation of daily life where digital money is likely to outpace cash. Furthermore, the transparency (or lack of) with which these decisions have taken place, indicates the extent to which the government and business elites value the right to information and freedom of choice. The move to a cashless/checkless economy thus epitomises how money is also subject to the freedom versus security debate that is fast becoming one of the quintessential quandaries of the 21st century.
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