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Big Revolution - Fear of a cashless society

Welcome to Thursday's Big Revolution, coming to you from a Britain having to come to terms with the g
April 11 · Issue #395 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Thursday’s Big Revolution, coming to you from a Britain having to come to terms with the grim fact that we’ve got another six months of Brexit debates ahead of us…
– Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Amazon has a big team of humans who listen to what users tell Alexa, Bloomberg reports. The work, which will make some uncomfortable, is intended to help make Alexa smarter.
  • Android devices can now be used as physical security keys. Google says that any device using Android 7.0 can act as a physical second factor for logins, instead of a USB dongle.
  • You’ll soon be able to edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files natively in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Hooray! Now more changing to Google format and back again.
The big thought
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Fear of a cashless society
Among the shops beneath London’s Old Street roundabout is a cafe that proudly denounces cash. You can pay by card or contactless systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay, but cash is a no-no. The view the cafe puts across is that cash is old fashioned and it’s time to move on.
This is hardly an unusual view. Much has been made of Amazon Go since the concept was unveiled in 2016. These stores in the US require an Amazon account to use and allow you to pick up items and leave without paying. In-store tech tracks what you take and charges your Amazon account directly.
Other retailers have rushed to take a similar approach, but banning cash has side-effects. Most important of these is that it excludes the unbanked and underbanked. If you rely on cash, stores that simply won’t take your money create a two-tier society.
Few would have expected Amazon, with its ruthless focus on efficiency, to compromise its vision for Go and accept cash. But that’s what it’s going to do.
Amazon is getting out ahead of potential laws that may force retailers to accept cash. Going cashless is an example of something that businesses shouldn’t necessarily do just because they can. I’m sure that eventually physical banknotes and coins will be museum relics, but we’re a long way from that. Low-cost digital wallet devices, biometrically linked to an individual owner is one possible future way of ending our need for cash.
Until it’s possible for every person in the country to get by without physical cash, cashless retailers are going to be the gated communities of the high street, and that’s enough to make many people feel uneasy supporting them.
One big read
Foxconn is confusing the hell out of Wisconsin Foxconn is confusing the hell out of Wisconsin
Chinese hardware manufacturing giant Foxconn last year announced a major investment in Wisconsin, USA. But there’s little sign of any action there, and plenty of smoke and mirrors about what might end up emerging. The City Park in Bradford, northern England even makes a bizarre cameo in the story.
What’s going on? The Verge takes a look.
One big tweet
Justin Mezzell
Unsubscribing from emails in 2020
4:50 PM - 9 Apr 2019
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow for more. See you then!
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