the end of cash" and the New Age of Digital Economics. Folks have been wildly speculating on crypto-currencies for about as long. All of this, however, assumes that most of the world wants to leave cash behind or even has the ability to access crypto-currencies. The whole concept is doomed to fail from the outset.
It has been a staple of conspiracy theories that the banksters want to end all cash transactions for a long time. There is no doubt that those folks would love to install a 3-cubed system (trace, track, tax) to control every single transaction on Earth. At the same time, there are vast numbers of people and businesses who only deal in cash for one reason or another, usually because they are dealing in illegal trade or because they simply want to avoid the headaches of collecting and accounting for taxes.
Anyone who has owned a business knows that the tax compliance regulations are a bitch in any country. Having to account and audit their books on at least an annual basis is not only a lot of work, but represents a fair expense itself to hire accountants and tax specialists, not to mention all the freaking paperwork that needs to be filed and stored for years.
For these reasons and more, certain parts of the economy operate almost exclusively in cash, particularly services and illegal trade. Since services are not tangible assets, like inventory, and illegal trade doesn't want records of their transactions, cash is king in these areas. However, large cash transactions are cumbersom at best, and storing large amounts of cash is particularly problematic. Also, how does one convert large amounts of cash into the above-ground economy without raising too much suspicion?
At this point, the economy bifurcates, with "white" and "black" markets emerging. Entire industries spring up that allow conversion of "black cash" into "white cash," so that it can be spent on traceable assets, like cars, houses and infrastructure to further build businesses. The conversion services, generally called "money laundering," is a much bigger economic segment than most people realize.
Industries, such as food & beverage, hospitality and entertainment, are particular favorites for both receiving and 'laundering" large amounts of cash. At some level, they all rely on self-reporting of transactions. Server tips, room registrations and ticket sales all have some aspect of self-reported transactions involved.
Here in Jakarta, there are thousands of road-side food vendors who don't accept or use credit/debit cards, and they pay cash for their supplies directly to producers, none of whom are under any particular pressure to report any of their transactions, and without constant monitoring, government has no means to book the sales. Since the transactions are cash from beginning to end, it would cost far more to monitor than is justified by the potential tax revenues.
This highlights the two primary reasons for moving to non-cash economies: 1) banksters want all money to pass through their institutions, so they can generate revenues from fees and loans, and 2) governments want to tax every single exchange to maximize their cut of the action. In other words, it's pure greed on the part of the "leeches" who produce nothing but want everything.
What the "leeches" fail to comprehend is that economics are organic transactions conducted by organic beings. Being inorganic, governments and banks must live off of the true economy of real people interacting. Without the ability to track, trace and tax every transaction, they are wholly unable to function, as they cannot generate money of their own without crashing the organic economy.
The ultimate problem lies in that people and economics are organic. Once the inorganic systems squeeze too hard, the organic world simply moves away from painful stimulae. We commonly call this moving away "black markets," "barter" and similar names. People begin to trade in other currencies or simply trade goods and services that they consider to be of equal value.
In the alternative currency markets, things like gold and silver, which are universally accepted and virtually untraceable if so desired, become the "money" of choice. However, history tells us that sea shells, nails, salt and similar materials have been used, based on relative rarity in an economy.
In a barter system, the cobbler and the candlestick maker decide that a pair of shoes is worth X number of candles, and they happily exchange their products for each other's wares. Barter is one of the oldest forms of trade known to us organics, followed closely by cash, which allows the cobbler to sell shoes without having to take immediate trade in other goods, and enables him to store excess output as "savings" for later purchases.
In the end, should state/bankster-issued cash cease to exist, a large (and growing) number of the organic economic actors would simply move to some alternative that everyone found mutually agreeable, whether is be barter or some new form of tangible asset that serves all the functions of "money."
Crypto-currencies are only fun while one has access to digital networks and electronic "wallets," but try buying necessities with Bitcoin in the jungle just a couple of hours from where I sit. Ain't gonna happen.
Basically, the "end of cash" only implies the beginning of some other means of economic system, whether it is metals and minerals, shells, leaves, nails, or some other tangible asset that can be stored, is easily transported and traded for other items.
Here in Asia, we have several perfect examples. Indonesia made it illegal to trade in anything but rupiah, and foreign investment dried up practically overnight. India banned the two most common bank notes and the monied class immediately began moving their wealth out of the country. South Korea is in the middle of a vast corruption scandal involving several wealthy families and the central government, causing folks to move their savings out of the country. On the other hand, Vietnam has reduced taxes, made asset ownership and visas easier for foreigners. Guess where all that moving wealth is going.
Money, or more accurately organic economic activity, will always move from restrictions to freedom. It is the way of organic systems. This is why things like TPP and TTIP are so desperately pushed by the government/bankster inorganics. They want universal regulation that prevents people from doing what people naturally do with their money. The theory is if there are no Vietnams, then there is nowhere for the organics to run. Ultimately, though, the organics will simply shed the inorganics in what we commonly call "revolutions" and set up a new and more agreeable system to trade in.
You have to wonder at the idiocy of the inorganics. They have spent centuries trying to plug the organic holes and prevent economies from leaking out, only to find there are twice as many smaller holes. They never learn. As soon as they make the inorganic system too painful to use, the organics simply walk away and find other ways to do things.
As the brilliant Thomas Merton observed, "The more you squeeze, the less you have."
Will the inorganics ever learn?