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?
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.
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.