I was going to comment on
Brett King's blog
The perfect storm to put an end to CASH and realised that I had more than a comment. Brett makes some good points.
There are many statistically compelling arguments to remove cash, however until the providers of vices are willing to accept other forms of payment I see some difficulty.
Mobile payments and interactions provide a better opportunity for governments to collect taxes and perhaps improve perception of security.
Crime and the perception of security are also very relevant given the success of many a political party in popular elections when running public security and law and order campaigns.
If your mobile device was your identity and payment mechanism, crime could be diminished, or at least more easily prosecuted. If we were all required to use a mobile as id, ticket, token, passport, visa and payment device there would be a clearer trail to
Opportunity crimes might be diminished if the thief were carrying a mobile phone. Switching the mobile off before committing a crime might flag potential suspects (as might not carrying one).
Terrorists would not be able to so easily slip off the grid, or travel to do mayhem. Keeping in touch with visitors to one's country would be easier if the terms of their visa were carriage and operation/use of a mobile during their stay.
The potential savings in printing identity/permit documents (far more expensive than currency) and associated hardware would be significant. Travel would be easier and safer, and airport operations improved.
Mobile identity could enable improved interactions between law enforcement and citizens, improve the personal dynamics of officer citizen interactions, reduce the time taken in interactions and the opportunity for corruption and save direct costs in law
Given that many children have mobile phones, they could be used to separate adults and children where appropriate on the internet.
It would take a fraction of the resources wasted in current id and payment processes to tweak the infrastructure already in place to enable such an approach globally.
In western countries it would prove cheaper for governments to give one to those who cannot afford a mobile (and probably essential with any campaign to mandate mobile identity). Fraud reductions would fund it.
Using a mobile in visit to the doctor might result in more patient care, more accurate, timely and confidential records, faster payments, lower costs and reduced medical fraud. Prescription mistakes and abuses might be reduced too.
Far more compelling than just saving money (and probably more practical if not requiring an iphone specifically), simply integrating the mobile into identity, payment and government services would reduce a lot of problems.
I'm sure some may feel that it might create a few too.
It is however easier to innovate for new profit rather than reducing old costs. I'm not sure the 'perfect storm' is yet upon us, but it is arguably very close.
Another aspect I have considered is that potentially the sale of a pair of jeans in an anonymous store in New York is not necessarily confidential in itself and I see no reason why the focus of a transaction - the product or service - need be confidential,
only the parties to the transaction. Potential access to the number of pairs of jeans, or cans of baby food, bought in a particular city or district in real time is the sort of real-time economic monitoring that might just give governments what they're missing
All you would need is a clever way of performing a mobile transaction safely while making the 'what' and roughly 'where' (but not the 'who') of the transaction available to anyone via google for instance. Tracking consumption in real time might be useful
for production and logistics.
Real-time measurement of consumer sentiment. (and voters' - without any potential nastiness at the polling station?)
It could also assist in stream-lining some of those clunky financial services too, such as offering instant credit at the point of sale. Using mobiles for payments is potentially easier and safer than current internet payment choices.
Importantly, mobile money could improve cricket by making it a lot harder to receive ill-gotten gains and thereby reduce corruption and match fixing.
So, the mobile is clearly the answer to all of our problems, isn't it handy that so many of us already carry one? Now to exploit the mobile's full potential.
What do you think?