The Coming Cashless Society

Sweden is rushing headlong into becoming the first nation to operate its entire economy without cash.

A Daily Mail article out of the U.K. this week reported that churches, businesses and banks in Sweden are all preparing to operate in an exclusively digital marketplace.

If you’re at all like me, that raises an alarm and makes you wonder if this is truly a sign of where the global economy is headed. Yes, it is—and alarms need to go off.

The Daily Mail article in question is just another example of how we’re being gulled into thinking that a cashless society is a good thing. Here are their reasons that we should all just go along:

First, only 3% of the entire economy of Sweden is based on the exchange of actual bills and coins so eliminating tangible currency altogether would be small change (pun intended).

Further, the two largest economies in the world are following fast after Sweden. Actual cash transactions comprise only 9% of the Eurozone economy and 7% of the U.S. economy.

Next, Swedish bankers, who stand to benefit greatly through the elimination of check floating, lower overhead and many small transaction fees, insist that crime will be greatly reduced when cash disappears. In fact, it’s already happening, according to the Daily Mail:

“The number of bank robberies in Sweden plunged from 110 in 2008 to 16 in 2011—the lowest level since [the Swedish Bankers’ Association] started keeping records 30 years ago. It says robberies of security transports are also down.”

The Ivory Tower of Academia is also trumpeting the cashless cause.  Economics Professor Friedrich Schneider of the Johannes Kepler University in Austria says the digital trail left by electronic transactions is one reason why Sweden has less white collar crime and official graft than countries with a stronger cash economy.

“’If people use more cards, they are less involved in shadow economy activities,’ says Schneider, an expert on underground economies.”

While this is not an official national policy, the reality is that institutions from banks, businesses and even buses no longer accept cash for payments. Often, customers are actually leading the way, as people use smart phones, other mobile devices and laptops to buy and sell everything, eliminating the need for cash in hand.

Even the faithful are coming to believe in a cashless society. A pastor quoted in the Daily Mail article noted that many of his parishioners found it more convenient to give electronically since they do not carry cash.

The road to a cashless society may be long, but with increasing digitalization, advanced economies are moving down that road faster than a Mercedes on the autobahn.

Still, there are many hazard signs that we should heed along the way—not the least of which is cybercrime.

The Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention reports a surge in cases of computerized fraud, from 3,300 in 2000 to nearly 20,000 in 2011. So, while cash related crimes have plunged, tech-savvy criminals have simply moved on to digital theft.

The U.S. and Britain are experiencing the same trend as millions of people report being defrauded by identity theft each year.

It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to realize that identity theft and other forms of cyber fraud are a problem that demands a solution. There must be a secure way to transact electronic commerce. How long before we are told that the answer is a personal identification system that cannot be stolen or compromised?

Meet Aadhaar

India has taken the lead in developing a unique and secure identity for its 1.2 billion citizens. If you think that sort of thing is only the stuff of science fiction, you need to catch up. Wired magazine reports that the project, called Aadhaar, is already well underway.

“Its goal is to issue identification numbers linked to the fingerprints and iris scans of every single person in India.“

Aadhaar means “foundation” in several Indian languages, and it entails the creation of the world’s largest database—with a unique record for every person in India.

“That’s more than 1.2 billion people—everyone from Himalayan mountain villagers to Bangalorean call-center workers, from Rajasthani desert nomads to Mumbai street beggars—speaking more than 300 languages and dialects. The biometrics and the Aadhaar identification number will serve as a verifiable, portable, all but unfakable national ID. It is by far the biggest and most technologically complicated biometrics program ever attempted.”

Why are alarms going off?  

Even the most credulous among us must recognize that our personal privacy and economic freedom effectively will be gone once we cannot transact business “off-line.” You may have a vague confidence in the privacy statement issued by your bank or online merchant, but when did you last read one? Have you read the Facebook privacy statement? Or the one issued by your mobile phone service provider? Are you aware of the extensive surveillance powers given to the government under the Patriot Act?

Seventy years ago, George Orwell wrote about a world without privacy. In his classic work, 1984, Orwell penned a futuristic scenario where Big Brother controlled all people through surveillance technology. That day is no longer futuristic—it has arrived. There is little about us that cannot be accessed online, and what little privacy remains will vanish right along with the greenbacks in a cashless society.

The most widely known biblical prophecy relating to the end times is found in Revelation 13: 18. It refers to the “Mark of the Beast” as 666. While no one knows the identity of the Beast, we do know from Revelation 13:16-17 that the Beast will be in complete control of the economy and have the ability to stop people from buying or selling the goods they need to survive.

We are heading towards a unified, interdependent global economy. I believe a major component of that will be a new digital currency and a secure, unique personal identification system. When these two requirements are perfected, the events spoken of in Revelation can become reality. Whether this will occur years, decades, or millennia from now, no man knows. I certainly don’t.

My purpose is to simply observe what is happening and keep you informed. As always, Handwriting on the Wall will be keeping watch.

I invite your comments below.

Chuck Bentley

P.S. To those of you who want to track many other prophetic events, especially those surrounding Israel, I recommend that you subscribe to Joel Rosenberg’s excellent blog.

1 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2117643/Sweden-Country-cashless-churches-accepting-cards-offerings.html

2 Ibid

3 http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/08/ff_indiaid/all/1

About Chuck Bentley

CEO, Crown Mininstries
This entry was posted in Handwriting on the Wall. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Coming Cashless Society

  1. Sandy says:

    It is frightening because we know that Antichrist will have global control and we can now see how it can work, but it is also reassuring because we know the end of the story and see that what God has said is coming true.

  2. karisb says:

    Chuck,
    I appreciate your sharing and awareness of what is happening in many parts of the world….as I am so preoccupied in my own little world of 5 kids still at home, making a living, connecting to our 3 adult kids and their children.

    Our oldest, Angela England, is in the midst of completing a book she was commissioned by Penquin (I think that was the publisher) on becoming more self-sufficient. The book Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/BackyardFarming The title is “Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)

    I am wondering….as you share the trends away from cash (and I confess that I purchase a lot of things on-line, use plastic routinely for convenience (always paying it off each month, so never paying a finance charge), what do you personally do? Do you live on cash….cashing each paycheck, paying things like utility companies, phone and internet providers, mortgage with cash?

    Other than the mortgage, we have no debt (and we are knocking it down pretty quickly). But I have to ask, beyond becoming debt free…what would be your recommended 10-steps toward living in a way that is financially wise as we move toward end-times prophecy fulfillment (which is what your article seems to suggest – even if you don’t want to give a timetable (which I understand), but the signs are there – in the present – not some futuristic technology that has yet to be invented.

    So, now what? I don’t want to be alarmist….but I also want to be wise and responsible. What do you suggest the wise Christian family do?

  3. Mel Klaassen says:

    Chuck,
    At what point as a small business owner do we buck this trend since in order to make a living right now we almost have to take credit cards, ie. Square portable scanner, Intuit’s GoPayment. I know we can’t stick our head in the sand and I personally believe in the Rapture of the Saints before much of the control of the Antichrist takes place, however it almost seems like developing a business plan for a new startup almost sounds like a waste of time and energy and yet I believe God is the one who gave me the idea for this business. — I appreciate your insite,

  4. Minnesota Dave says:

    On one hand it’s exiting, as it is just part of what will usher in the final judgement and our transport to our eternal home.
    On the other hand I weep for my grandchildren. I’m 63, and I may not face this. But it seems it’s nearly certain that my young grandchildren, and even my children in their 30s-40s may face this. ‘
    Oh Lord, come quickly!

  5. Hope64 says:

    As a child of the ’70s (I was born in 1964), I remember vividly rampant rapture talk in our small Baptist community. There was a computer in Belgium that was a supercomputer, capable of tracking every movement of Earth’s population. The name of the computer – “The Beast”. I’m not kidding. Also interesting, I believe that folks begin to think of Biblical prophesy FAR MORE in times of economic crisis – remember going to the store in the 1970’s and every time you went the prices had escalated at an alarming rate? Also, the Oil Embargo? God surely calls His people to be aware of current economic trends to and look to HIM, the author and finisher of our faith to sustain us spiritually and physically at all times.

  6. Alex70 says:

    I don’t know how much of this is true, but there was some rash of reports about Motorola making a biochip to help track patients in nursing homes who have alzheimers who might wander off. I know similar technology is available to help locate lost pets. I was reading an article on Snopes about a company called MONDEX that makes smart card RFID technology for credit cards and inventory tracking. They were responding to someone who thought these technologies were conspiring to be used to bring us into the cashless society. Can you research this? from what the Mondex guy was saying, this conspiratorial theory is far fetched and false.

  7. Mike says:

    I had read that article a couple of days ago about the Swedish society aiming at going cashless and had wondered if Chuck Bentley would comment on it. Just some quick history. There are more than one End Times Philosophy, the one most popular in Fundamentalist, Evangelical – nondenominational churches is the PreTribulation Dispensationalist aka (Left Behind) view of the end times. The other end times scenario is the one that is believed by most Christians round the world: Catholic, Lutheran, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and some Baptist churches and that is Amillenium which essentially says that when the rapture happens THEN the final judgement begins al la separating the sheep from the goats. I’m giving a very simplistic view of this, but you get the idea. It’s all over but the shouting when THAT Rapture happens. No second chance as in the PreTrib view. The “Left Behind” view of the end times didn’t come around until the mid 1800’s by Pastor John Nelson Darby who was an Anglican pastor, when he came to the US he started his own denomination, the Plymouth Brethren Church where he espoused the PreTrib view of the end. It was spread around America via the Scofield Reference Bible that was popular in the US in the early decades of the 20th century.

    Having said all that, I realize that most folks here are from the more fundamentalist/evangelical type churches and probably didn’t know of the other view of the End times, which is why I gave a short history. I only found out a couple of years ago when I had done some exploring about the Lutheran Church. To better understand how those churches interpret Revelations view the video series at Lutheran Men’s Network.
    http://www.lhmmen.com/studyvideofull.asp?id=13572

    This video series is produced by the conservative branch of the Lutheran Church, the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod). They do a good job explaining it. Even if you don’t end up agreeing with that view, you may have a better understanding of the book of Revelation than you have now. But getting back to this cashless society.

    IF the Pre-Trib (Left Behind) view is actually correct (why did it take until the mid 1800’s for the church to get this view of the end). So in this PreTrib view of the end, when the Rapture comes all followers of Christ will be called up to the clouds and be in heaven with Jesus. So we’ll NOT be here when the Anti-Christ takes over. So we as Christians will miss having to have that mark of the beast to do any commerce, where you essentially have renounced Christ to get the mark as you’ll align yourself with the Satan. So from a spiritual point of view, what’s the panic?

    Now from a secular point of view, I do share Mr. Bentley’s concerns of privacy as yes, this will be more Big Brother (read “1984” by George Orwell to better understand the term Big Brother) and from that vantage point I totally agree with Mr. Bentley that going cashless will not be a good thing. Funny though, I rarely use cash. Get gas for my car, use my bank card, go to McDonald’s use my bank card, go grocery shopping use my bank card, pay my monthly bills online via my bank, BUT I want the option to use cash and even though I don’t agree with the Pre-Trib (Left Behind) view of the end times I DO NOT want to have some computer chip of any kind, inserted under my skin in my forearm, forehead, or any where else.

    One good thing a cashless society will bring will be problems for the drug cartels and street pushers who run a cash business. Also companies hiring illegals to work for less than American wages won’t be able to do that as they too run a cash business when paying those illegals their pay for their work. Deadbeat fathers who work for cash to evade paying child support and so Family Court can’t find their income will no longer be able to get away with that sort of gaming the system. So there are some positives which is what the government will use to “sell” all of us of the benefits of going totally cashless. But as Mr. Bentley correctly said, this will make Orwell’s “1984” even more of a reality than we already have. So we do need to beware.

    I’m not exactly sure what we can do about it other than to let our politicians know that we are totally dead set against the cashless society. Unfortunately, we probably won’t have much say in it as the bankers have far more power and influence than you or I (which is why those solid banking rules from FDR’s New Deal of 1932 that kept the banks in line for all those years was dropped in the 1990’s while Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House and Bill Clinton was President. This caused the mess we’ve been in since 2008. So YES the banks need to be regulated, and other than prayer, I’m not sure what we can do to stop the eventual cashless society from coming to the US.

  8. Paul says:

    I believe the Pre-Trib view makes the most sense. One strong advocate for it, and who makes a very compelling case for it, is Dr. Ed Hindson who has a program called “The King is Coming.” I simply can see no compelling reason for why the church should go through the tribulaion. When we come to faith in Christ, and even our faith is a gift from God, and we live this life only through the indwelling Holy Spirit, then there is no reason for the bride of Christ to experience this. It proves nothing. With regard top why so many denominations would hold a different view till the 1800’s, my view is that I even recall as a teenager in the 70’s that a great deal of people had a very difficult time with Revelation. I have a reprint of an old commentary of Adam Clark, 1832, where he comes right out and states that he simply does not understand Revelation. However, as we get closer and closer, Revelation becomes more an more understandable. One such clarity is how everyone will be able to see the Two Witnesses die and then come back to life. Another is how
    the Anti-Christ can control the world’s economy.

    As to why one that believes in the rapture of the church before the tribulation would care about a future cashless society – it is the same reason that we care about all the signs (such as the restoration of the nation of Israel). It gives us hope because as the Bible says, we are to look up because our redemption draws near.

    Of course there are all kinds of compelling reasons for why a computer based, cashless society makes sense. Bentley article points out many of those. Lot of things that are done today make a lot of sense to a lot of people. But the Bible says that in the end times wrong will be considered right and right will be considered wrong. If one has a humanistic view of life then lots of things make perfect sense.

    By the way, the real reason we are in this recession is the real estate bubble bursting. This was not a banking issue per se. The Community Reinvestiment Act, Government pressure on banks via this act and quasi government entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to force banks to make real estate loans to unqualified borrowers, the easy money shooting up home values, led to the bust of the real estate market. The effect set off a chain of events that went global. The banks did bundle these bad loans but it was the government that forced them to make the individual loans in the first place. And it is not over. The huge deficit and Ben Bernanke printing money with no backing will lead to a dollar collapse and financial collapse in the USA, just like Larry Burkett predicted many years ago, unless saner minds prevail to reign this in.

    When you trust government to to be the administrator of fairness, to be your protector, to save you, to be your advocate – then this is what you get. We as believers have the truth and the only true Advocate, Jesus. And we are empowered by the Holy Spirit and can ask for wisdom and receive it. And as Crown Ministries so often reminds us, there are a great deal of scriptures regarding our money and our finances.

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  11. Pete Doyle says:

    I’ll be interesting to watch the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare in the next weeks.

    If the individual mandate is upheld (because of the Commerce Clause) and eventually the abortion pill mandate is upheld (asserting Government has the right to force us to do things that are against our religious convictions/1st amendment rights), then it’d seem to lay a legal path forward for the eventual implementation of the Mark of the Beast in the USA (as it would affect both interstate commerce and it’d be questionable–at best–whether we can refuse based on religious convictions).

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  13. John says:

    Well thought out responses all. This is not like the mindless respones on other blogs. Thanks for the input. John B

  14. Corey Brown says:

    I do believe that the end times are approaching, but I recommend that we keep in mind that it will occur in God’s time and not ours. That being said, our generation may or may not see it, as well as our children or our children’s children.
    I do believe that as Christians we are to fight against the injustices of the world, violations of the Word. Just as Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection was necessary, so is His return. Jesus ensured that noone, not even his disciples, would prevent the fulfillment of the prophecy. Our eternal salvation depended on the occurence of what we now consider a tragic event. I believe that instead of trying to figure out what God is going to do and when we should truly focus on fulfilling the Great Commission given to the disciples of Christ. Instead of spreading fear with a sense of hopelessness, we need to make people aware and show them them that there is hope in the Word, in our belief that Christ died for our sins. We are powerless in preventing the fulfillment of God’s Word, we should encourage the spreading of His word and soul-saving. I recommend that we work tirelessly to use the tenets of this and other great ministries, minus politics, to achieve that end. As the word says, man’s economy is not God’s economy. As society becomes even more global, it is inevitable that the conduct of transactions will not advance. Even in the United States, we are no longer bartering for goods and services as our ancestors did with goods produced from our own labor. I have served in the military for over 20 years and have had direct deposit during the majority of my time in the military, so I have not seen a paper paycheck for over 2 decades and have not worried about having money for tithes and offering, paying bills, travelling, purchasing goods and services, etc.
    Has this made life convenient, yes. Does this make us vulnerable to tracking by “the man”, yes. Has this made us more vulnerable to identity theft, yes.
    Yes, there are many negatives to this, but as in all things we do, education and proactivity can help to protect us in all of our dealings in the world.
    God bless us all, He is risen and He is coming back!

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