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If You Could Only Use Cash (video)

by Ricardo Pachon
3 minutes read

Perhaps you have seen those documentaries of people that try to live according to a certain fixed rule for some prolonged period of time: eating only burgers, or sticking to a strict vegan diet, or following exactly the teachings of the Bible.

In my last video I proposed a reality show following one or two people with the premise they can’t use any financial services other than cash. I think it would be quite dramatic!

I think of myself volunteering for such show. The first thing I need to do is to move to a different flat, one where the landlord accepts cash and doesn’t require a bank transfer: my landlord lives in Scotland and there’s no way I will do a trip every month to pay the rent.

I also need to quit my job: there is no chance my employer accepts to make the payments other than to a bank account. So I need to get a job in which I can get paid directly in cash (and I’m afraid I only know of a couple of industries in which cash is preferred…)

Gone are the debit cards, credit cards, wire transfers, online payments, forex exchanges. I cannot even take the tube or the bus in London, as now they don’t accept cash. And here is a realization: I cannot make payments to any company providing utility services (e.g., water, electricity, etc). Those companies accept cash payments in bank branches which are financial providers.

I thought I could ask a friend to make for me all the necessary payments if I give her the cash, but here is the trap: Any method of payment that involves an intermediary is by itself a financial service. By asking my friend to pay my bills that I cover in cash, I am setting up an informal payment service. (I didn’t say the ban covered only formal financial services!).

I need to liquidate all my investments and I need to forego my pension as I cannot take that money out before retirement age. I have small bag of notes and coins that I need to hide somewhere safe. I live in constant fear that it gets stolen.

After a few months, I come to terms that I need to move out of the city to a remote place where I can minimise my interactions with others. I probably start living in isolation, and I’m glad I took all those bushcraft courses because it seems I’m going to use those skills.

I think this reality show would be quite fun to watch! Perhaps I can get a couple banks, or MasterCard or PayPal to sponsor it.

But let me get where I want to go with all this:

  • They may not be that sexy, but without financial services neither you nor me could function in society.
  • I will go as far as saying that without financial services, neither you nor me could meet the most basic requirements for a life, with a minimum quality and dignity.
  • If financial services are essential for you and me, why should it be different for a poor person?

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