Visa Buying Ads in Kids' Games

The cashless society cometh

James Corbett
Corbett Report

December 5, 2007

The new monopoly

This Christmas shopping season, parents will have an interesting choice to make in the board game section of the toy store: whether to buy the updated Game of Life in which children now play with Visa-branded credit cards or the updated Monopoly in which children buy property with a Visa-branded debit card. If board games aren't your children's thing, perhaps they'd appreciate a Barbie with a credit card or a Hello Kitty debit card. It seems Visa and other financial institutions are conditioning our children early to accept the coming of the cashless society. (Those still in doubt are invited to cogitate on the not-so-subtle courting of the pre-pubescent set in Visa's new ad campaign.)

The cashless society is a description of a future economy which no longer uses cash. Paper has become a thing of the past and plastic is used for everything. What could be more convenient than plastic? Certainly not cash, which can transmit viruses...or worse. Indeed, just about the only thing better than paying with plastic is paying with a small RFID microchip implanted in your arm.

Does the cashless society sound far-fetched? Just ask Peter Ayliffe, the president of Visa, who earlier this year said we can expect to see the cashless society in place by 2012. In fact, he even suggested that retailers might soon levy surcharges on customers paying with cash.

It's quite obvious to see how the end of cash would be good news for banks, financial institutions and credit card companies, but why then is government pushing for the end of cash? And should citizens be worried when government and big finance team up to create a system in which everything you ever purchase can be tracked and logged in a database?