The explosion of new forms of alternative currencies and the persistent refusal to do away with physical cash indicates growing public concern over the way in which electronic money enables large scale data surveillance. In a world without cash, every payment becomes traceable, allowing for unprecedented amounts of citizen spending data to be collected. As more and more shops and retailers in large cities reject cash in favor of electronic money, important issues regarding privacy, data and surveillance become central to the future of money. These concerns echo wider debates around data and surveillance – the Apple vs. FBI backdoor case has highlighted the mounting tensions between commercial and governmental data surveillance. The implementation of crypto currencies by some of the worlds leading banks is a worrying advancement that refits the anonymity of bitcoin into the largest consumer database.
What alternatives to electronic money can prevent citizen surveillance and inspire radical visions of the future of money? What does the commercial adoption of bitcoin indicate for citizen privacy? How will consumer data be managed in the future of electronic cash?