The Case for Ditching America's Cash

Mar 16, 2016, 08:30 ET from David R. Warwick

SANTA ROSA, Calif., March 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- A timely new book --The Abolition of Cash: America's $660 Billion Burden – discusses "the staggering damages that America suffers from a payment system it no longer needs." 

Although Scandinavia will likely be cashless within a decade, author David Warwick says that prospect is "politically unwelcome" in America – where it's obstructed by distrust of government, calls for payment anonymity and angst over cyberthefts. Most citizens, he laments, regard cash safer than digital money.

America's policy makers evidence no interest in abolishing cash to achieve socioeconomic goals, criticizes Warwick. They understand its role in tax evasion and drug trafficking but at most, he says, some "timidly" suggest terminating the $100 bill.

Cash will circulate in the US for decades, predicts the author, while America struggles with violent cash-driven street crimes -- narcotrafficking and money laundering tied to over 35,000 overdose deaths per year -- an underground economy that saps 8% of the GDP -- terrorist funding and a host of other cash-aided antisocial activity. It's irresponsible, he contends, to "stubbornly ignore a digital remedy."

Making cash 'cash-targeted crimes' impossible would prevent over 1,000 homicides and save hundreds of billions of dollars per year, contends Warwick; nor would barter, gold, foreign currencies or digital money fill in for cash.  Interestingly, he explains how cyberthieves themselves rely on physical cash to break trails.

He describes the 24/7 ATM as a place where 7,500 Americans are robbed each year; where crooks use "skimmers" to siphon off patrons' bankcard numbers; where "carders" use blanks implanted with hacked account numbers to steal cash; and where 50 times a day 'crash and grab' thieves ram stolen vehicles into buildings and cart away ATMs.

The point of eliminating cash's anonymity, he argues, is to deter crime by making payments detectable. This raises a red flag, he admits. But despite Snowden's revelations, he argues, cash is "hopelessly inadequate" for defense against authoritarian governance, pointing to North Korean and Iran as proof. The realistic impact of cash in governance, emphasizes Warwick, lies in corruption -- citing a finding that one in seven Americans have bribed an official.

He acknowledges "legitimate" scenarios where one uses cash anonymously to prevent embarrassment or recrimination. However, he says their loss is relatively "trivial" and suggests work-arounds.

Identity theft and cybercrime could remain troublesome he admits, but calculates their overall cost at only 20% of the prospective savings from abolishing cash – which he calculates at $660 billion per year. 

This book packs a lot in 204 pages: $40 billion in cash, per a survey, is stolen annually from businesses (yes that's a "B"). Abolishing cash would doom branch banks. Telecoms would become payment processors. What happens when power fails? Would virtual currency replace cash? How would abolition impact crime in Mexico?

This is an informative, thought-provoking read. Available at Amazon in print and Kindle.

David R. Warwick is a businessman, attorney and independent researcher who also wrote Ending Cash, the Public Benefits of Federal Electronic Currency (Quorum Books 1998) and numerous articles on transitioning to digital money. 


Media Contact:  David R. Warwick, 707-545-9898, Email

SOURCE David R. Warwick