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The hidden dangers of Asia’s cashless society

For the past decade, Asia has been pioneering the movement towards cashless economic ecosystems by investing billions of dollars into mobile payments technology, with the hope of driving innovation and stimulating more activity in the region’s economy.

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The appeal of mobile e-wallets is evident in Asia and the past decade, Asia has had bold ambitions to make the cashless society a reality. 

After all, e-money is more convenient than carrying cash, can adapt to change quickly and they’re often tied to loyalty benefits. They also save countries a lot of money as the costs of printing, storing and moving cash are not insignificant.

The appeal of mobile e-wallets is evident in Asia and the past decade, Asia has had bold ambitions to make the cashless society a reality. 

After all, e-money is more convenient than carrying cash, can adapt to change quickly and they’re often tied to loyalty benefits. They also save countries a lot of money as the costs of printing, storing and moving cash are not insignificant.

Pioneering this front was Hong Kong with the Octopus card. But as seen with the recent political demonstrations – where surveillance conscious protesters have made efforts to go digitally dark – the benefits of our hyperconnected financial lives can come at a cost.

Financial transparency without an individual’s consent is really, mass surveillance

For the past decade, Asia has been pioneering the movement towards cashless economic ecosystems by investing billions of dollars into mobile payments technology, with the hope of driving innovation and stimulating more activity in the region’s economy. 

The past few years have seen the incredibly rapid rise of the use of mobile e-wallets, particularly in Asia, with eight of the top 10 markets in mobile payments from the region

Countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and Singapore all are seeing double-digit growth rates in mobile payments with almost half of their populations using such services. In China, the global leader with an 86 per cent penetration, Wechat and Alipay have almost replaced cash entirely in some areas.

Government surveillance on citizens continues to prove itself a threat to individual sovereignty, safety and livelihood.

China’s Social Credit Scoring System, a national reputation system that has been in development since 2007, has seen countless citizens blacklisted, in the system, for speaking out against government corruption.

In China, being blacklisted severely impacts a person’s livelihood by limiting what they have access to and where they can go. 

What has been branded as financial transparency is, in reality, an act of mass societal surveillance that could expose citizens to bad actors if such data falls into the wrong hands.

Without privacy, Asia’s cashless society will only benefit governments

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