Recently I saw the observation that you can track gentrification by the spread of shops that won’t take cash.

This is a problem because a lot of people don’t have credit or debit cards, even still. It’s easy to wind up “unbanked”. It’s also the case that cashless societies have walked a fair way down the authoritarian path.

The solution is simple enough:

  1. make it illegal for retail stores to refuse cash.
  2. Create a national “cash card”, similar to gift cards, and mandate that it must be accepted by any retailer, offline or online. The cards can be unregistered, in which case they act much like cash in that if you lose it or it’s stolen, there’s little protection, but you have at least a bit of anonymity, or they can registered. If a registered card is given to everyone when they file taxes, and any refunds are put on it, use will spread like wildfire.
  3. In every post office and various other locations allow people to buy these cash cards for, well, cash.

This will make anti-money-laundering a bit harder, but we managed back when everything was true cash, and there are more important things.

You could even have registered cards receive interest payments if you wanted. Say prime minus 1/2 a point, and that would have lots of good knock-on effects, forcing banks to actually start paying reasonable interest on accounts again.

(In Canada, if you have unclaimed money with the tax service, you get a pretty decent interest rate based on prime, and with recent increases in prime, for a lot of people, it’s the best interest rate reasonably available. Pre-pay those taxes if you can!)