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VISA Payment Crash and the Dangers of a Cashless World

by Kit

Yesterday, Visa’s payment system crashed in Europe. Millions of people were unable to complete purchases. Some found themselves trapped overseas. It was a small glitch, apparently, but could have caused a major panic.

This situation should be a special warning to the people of the UK, who on average carry only £17 in cash at any moment, and where 1/4 of us will leave a store if paying by card is not an option. I count myself among those people.

As someone who has simply gotten completely out of the habit of carrying cash at all, this news is an eye-opener. Obviously, through OffGuardian, I consider myself aware of the deeper problems of society and of malicious political agendas, and yet I never thought of my financial vulnerability in a world where I literally have no control over my money.

Well, in a cashless world, where your money is entirely digital, you’re never more than a computer glitch or a power outage from going bankrupt. A hack away from identity theft. A forgotten pin from being locked out of your own money. A clerical error from the complete collapse of your finances.

That’s just minor accidents. There’s the more insidious side of course, the side of the state. The Visa crash demonstrates corporate incompetence (allegedly), but incompetence is just one of the dangers. There’s also malfeasance.

This vulnerability is undeniable, and yet it is being actively encouraged all over the world. The “war on cash” is a fact of life. Hard currency is undermined at every opportunity. As James Corbett has written:

We’ve heard cash is dirtied by drug dealing, tarnished by terrorism, tainted by tax evasion (heaven forbid!) and just plain dirty. Not to mention sooooo outdated.

But why?

Because it hands vast power over to financial institutions.

In a cashless world, no one has anything, except what the bank says they have. And banks can lie, or make mistakes, or cheat, or steal. It’s practically all they do.

In a cashless world, every single payment you make can be traced, reported to the tax office, used to surveil your behaviour, pin-point your location or even create what the Russians call “Kompromat”. Blackmail material, real or invented, it makes little difference these days.

Deeper than that, in a cashless world, where your money is entirely digital, the state can take your money via the bank without your permission or even knowledge. Claim “back taxes” or levy fines or punish you for whatever petty reason they can think of.

And that’s just what they take out, but what about what they put in?

In an entirely cashless world, where the digital bank balance is the only truth, the state could cooperate with big banks in digital entrapment, or full on digital “framing”.

Simply deposit £100,000 into your account from “a known drug dealer”, or “a terrorist front” or – of course – “the Kremlin”. You have an instant way to undermine critics. A handy machine – credit in, discredit out.

This tool could be used to demonize, undermine or even arrest anti-government voices in the media, or anti-establishment politicians.

Granted, every single one of these things is possible today, and might well be happening. But the danger of a cashless world would be that everyone was trapped. There would be no work-around, no safe-guard, no way to get “off the grid”.

An entirely digital financial landscape could only ever be considered “safe” in a world where big business and big government had proven themselves to be both competent and benign.

Sadly, we know for a fact they are neither.


  1. No cash, no freedom says

    Perhaps, big business role in mass surveillance started with credit cards, promoted as a cool alternative to cash under the banner of ‘convenience’.

    No one suspected by that time the slippery slope we embarked on towards loss of freedom and democratic choice of governance, as we are losing the ability to conduct transactions using cash.

  2. Do i have money today? says

    “you’re never more than a computer glitch or a power outage from going bankrupt.”

    Ha .. and the odds stacks against you if you view the Establishment unfavorably. AI solves all problems, quietly and efficiently!

  3. Dominion says

    And you cherish convenience, consciously?!!

    How come, a simple financial transaction (done locally), like buying small gadget, is designed to benefit a MNC situated in the US (called VISA or MC or whatever)?

    Why would sovereign nations allow such penetration by a foreign entity (like VISA) to establish itself knowing that it does not add any value to the product being sold or bought, but only give this foreign entity a foothold in the economy for nothing in return?

  4. We live in a far from ideal world. I’m not sure of the author’s argument here since we don’t mint cash ourselves – well not unless we want to get into a lot of trouble.

    Money is ultimately a lever of the state in whatever form it takes.

    I think the “financial institutions” (the banks?) are already fairly powerful, don’t you?

  5. Credit Please says

    Using VISA or other credit cards is like feeding the parasites that grow to take control of your life.

    Why on Earth would you need to feed a parasite when you’re filling your car or buying a trinket from a store down the road?

    Use plastic for everything, and your bank statement will look like a mass surveillance log, including dates, times of your movements as well as details of your lifestyle.

    A crash in payment system should be welcome. It’s liberating. A permanent crash is even better!

    • Thanks, I’ll keep feeding the parasites then. I use cash too. This is the 21st century.

  6. Robbobbobin says

    And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    – John, in The Book of Revelation 13:16-17, about 2000 years ago.

    You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

    – Bob, in Subterranean Homesick Blues, about 50 years ago.

  7. Edwige says

    The mistake they’re making is to justify ‘the cashless society’ mainly on grounds of convenience, with a few token claims about crime thrown in.

    They need to hitch it to some sort of apparently philanthropic cause (save the environment, good for your health, combat racism/sexism etc). That has people falling over themselves to cuddle up to the new technocracy. It never fails….

  8. rtj1211 says

    At the end of the day, trade occurs using a medium of exchange agreeable to both parties. A dairy farmer could pay a market in cow shit and receive a weekly vegetable box in exchange. A Scottish beef farmer could exchange a cow for 50-100 bottles of single malt with a whisky producer.

    A parent could exchange childcare services for cooking services with a nursery.

    Of course a single medium of exchange simplifies things, but it also centralises things.

    • Hmm, I think you’re forgetting someone.

      Not sure the taxman would appreciate his share of the farmer’s cow shit, though I daresay there are a number of people who would quite like to mail something like that to him instead of cash …

  9. DeGrauned says

    In the good old days there was a mechanical machine that imprinted your card in a triplicate copy that the merchant used and you signed to make a payment.

    Before the new fangled telecom reliant systems.

    No reason why it couldn’t have been reverted to the orher day, is there?

  10. Betrayedplanet says

    I have long since realised the complete criminality of the current system. The 2008 crash swept my livelihood from beneath my feet. A working artist for over 25 yrs and suddenly it was gone, I blame banks and politicians unreservedly for this. I spent the following 4 yrs flailing both mentally and physically. Bailiffs at my door, threats from the thugs of HSBC, trying to find work, trying to keep a half way stable home for my then young teenage son.
    I realised that the system is rigged, the little people used and despised, caged animals in a world where ones self respect and talents are worthless. I sold my home, repaid the remainder of my mortgage and bought a small holding, grow my own veg, fruit etc and have basically become a semi recluse in a vicious world where we are regarded as little more then cockroaches. I have been so sickened by the appalling levels of corruption, greed and downright psychopathy that I will play no part in it insofar as that can be done. There is a reckoning coming and a big one so I would advise all who can to reassess life, look to other ways to forge a more righteous life and screw the bastards where it hurts most. The very last thing establishments wants are people growing their own food, being self reliant and not contributing to the psychotic system under which we have been burdened for so long.

    • Anna Z says

      You’re so right, Betrayedplanet. I’m on the path to doing the same thing, and hope to be debt-free and growing a significant portion of our food by this time next year. May I add one more suggestion to your plan? It would be better if we grouped together in small communities so that people can pool talent and resources and avoid geographical, political and social isolation. I think it used to be called a village…:)

    • Come to Bulgaria , bro. you can not only grow yer’ own but also with the best quality water, free of charge from the mountain, if you find a house with a well in the Garden , which is way easier than it sounds , coz’ But,garia has the largest water reserves per Square kilometre & per Capita in the whole of Europe, that’s why the bastards are running the country down to buy up all land & water rights on the cheap and turn it into a “Dust Bowl illusory State” so the people GTFO coz’ financially it appears to be a Bon Jovi “DRY COUNTY” , with a mass of water underneath ..

      right, given the rude nature of Admin , just plain ignoring me , this beautiful hot sunny Monday morning I’m off to spot my favourite Golden Eagle / Stein Adler mixing it up and flying with our new Gripen Fighters on NATO training manoeuvres ..

      Time now @12:12 4/6/2018

  11. Fifty or sixty years from ‘Money is the poor man’s credit card’ to the end of civilisation as we know it . That’s not bad progress!

  12. Francis Lee says

    Holding your assets in digital ‘money’ or even fiat currency is a very foolish practise where the value of both is becoming increasingly problematic. It will be adroit, if not imperative, to hold you wealth, such as it is, in a diversified portfolio, with sound assets which will appreciate in price in the great monetary reset which is coming. Any value-bearing asset will do: property, precious metals, blue-chip equities, L’objets D’Art, high performance sports cars … will do. Digital money and fiat currency are based on a religious faith in their supposed ‘intrinisic’ value. They do not, and they will disappear in due course as every currency in history has.

    Get out of the fiat trap asap.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      With two hundred trillion plus of global debt, the rentier parasites are waxing fat on the blood of the 99%. The whole thing will implode very soon, and then we’ll see real chaos.

    • Jen says

      Unfortunately this is not very sound advice when even owning and trading shares and properties in a so-called “diversified portfolio” is done … digitally.

      Owning a high-performance sports car? A car starts losing value as soon as you drive it out of the dealership. A high-performance sports car is also of little worth were it to embrace a tree or a concrete pylon unexpectedly.

      Owning an expensive painting, sculpture or some other artwork? The value of the object can rise and fall as steeply as a high-risk equity in some dodgy pyramid-scheme enterprise or a property in a low-lying hurricane zone next to the mouth of a major river (like New Orleans).

      Owning precious metals? That might still be done digitally.

      As with digital money and fiat currency, having religious faith in the supposed values of the alternatives amounts to just that … religious faith.

      • reinertorheit says

        I suppose we must all put a bit aside for old age in shares in a major weapons manufacturer :-((

        • Reiner, I have a really simple binary question for you and for once your opinion would actually really interest me, given where you live .. Yes or No will suffice > ‘Easy’ 😉

          “Do you think that a Leveson 2 inquiry might actually help to evolve some progressive change to the huge impasse that exists presently, due to the censorship we all find ourselves under .. “

          • reinertorheit says

            I live in Moscow. Leveson has nothing to do with me. I have no opinion about it.

        • JudyJ says

          Yep. Or maybe G4S (aka Group 4 Security) “Europe’s largest private sector employer” (ref. Dan Glazebrook’s excellent book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy In an Age of Crisis”), whose impact and value, in both monetary terms and its contribution to employment figures, continually increases as world destabilisation spreads and intensifies.

  13. If one’s intention is to loot a customer, then it is far easier to press a button than stick the cash into large sacks. Nobody’s “money” is either real or safe any more until it’s in an asset whose value goes far beyond the twilight financial world – property, land, and in some cases gold.
    Equally, fiat currencies are worthless paper as and when the corruption of a currency reaches a certain point. The euro is much closer to that situation than most people realise. Rajoy has been ousted in Spain, and the Italian coalition is going to be a headache for Brussels.
    Until “money” in one form or another has a solid (rather than directionalised) valuation again, every penny we have is at risk.

  14. This all comes from passive acceptance of public dishonesty: for instance, an ex-prime minister T.BLiar who instead of being shot for treason is rewarded with a directorship in House of Rothschild, the highest rank ever attained by a non-Jewish Brit; a British econonomy that openly declares its dependence on Money Laundering by the City of London; an MSM which blatantly serves up fake atrocities to justify wholesale robbery with mass murder; and so on. Nothing public is safe if the public do not watch our own morals and demand the same high standard from our public representatives.

    • Brilliant, I could shoot T.B. myself , right now, and never feel one gram of remorse , indeed the very opposite given the Media & Communications War we all find ourselves subjected to ..

    • Robbobbobin says

      “This all comes from passive acceptance of public dishonesty…”

      Lying is an innate, latent skill that becomes manifest from the age of about three. Almost nobody will seriously knock it because almost everyone who keeps their powder dry, who are the dominant majority, has seriously relied on it at some subsequent times or anothers.

  15. I tend to stay reasonably well-stocked with cash even though I usually pay by card, however, the cash isn’t going to last very long, is it? The scariest thing is – cash or cashless – it’s all tied up with banks. There’s a joke of a Royal Commission going on with banks at the moment in Australia. Whether it’s the GFC or whatever financial disaster, the banks are tied up with it. And despite the surveillance of the little people afforded by a cashless system the big crooks will have their money safely tucked away in Swiss bank accounts or be managed otherwise to be untraceable and untouchable. That’s the galling thing. We’re told all the surveillance etc is to protect us from the criminals but the big criminals have the power to do things outside the system they implement just for us.

    • James Scott says

      Even the ex Banker Oz PM has his cash in offshore tax havens, so the future of cash here has a short future.

  16. Great article and something I’ve thought about myself. Being able to point out the problems is one thing, being able to provide a sustainable alternative is another.

  17. this is all true of course. but your cash comes from the atm anyway, so that’s not a solution. the only real solution is reduce and minimize one’s need for money in any form, either electronic or folding paper money. that means owning land, farming with animals not tractors, learning traditional arts of woodworking, blacksmithing, dairying, etc. rather like the Amish in America, for example. they could get by just fine if the entire banking system collapsed.

    • Francis Lee says

      Agreed, when the value of bank deposits and even fiat currencies is becoming increasingly problematic then you must, wherever possible, diversify your wealth. Any value bearing asset will do: land, property, blue-chip equities, precious metals, l’objets d’art, high-performance cars, all of which will rise in price when the great inflation comes, as it will. The great money reset is coming, make sure you are not overexposed by holding all you earthly possessions in what will be worthless digital cash.

      • Jen says

        Unfortunately owning blue-chip equities (in entities like Australia’s Gang of Four banks), property around the country and the world, precious metals, sculptures and artwork (that eat up loads of money in the insurance you have to pay), and Tesla cars (that blow up at the most inopportune moments) is of not much help to you when you most need food to eat, and the weapons, digital security systems and security guards you need to fend off the irate Great Unwashed wanting their fair share of the wealth you stole from them.

      • Robbobbobin says

        “…when the value of bank deposits and even fiat currencies is becoming increasingly problematic then you must, wherever possible, diversify your wealth. Any value bearing asset will do: land, property, …”

        Presumably you exclude pre-promised land and property, such as but not only that in Palestine (née Canaan) and environs?

        In the real world, “assets” (both tangible and intagible, such as your life and health, wife and happiness) are, like “rights”, only what you can rip off and keep ripped off. Hence opium, religion and politics.

        Hang on Harvey, who swiped the pipe?

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