EVEN THOUGH the Prime Minister is admittedly a technophobe, he suggests that the nation become a cashless society primarily to curb crime, increase productivity, and increase security. Admittedly, we have failed at every one of those endeavours, with the TSTT data breach being the latest single point of failure.
A look at the online presence of the Ministry of Digital Transformation that Rowley is using to lead this digital revolution shows nothing has been done in its short existence, except to tell the nation that Hassel Larry Bacchus, with his associate degree, and to top it off his experience – according to the ministry's website he was chief technology officer of TSTT – is here to lead the way as the minister of digital revolution.
While no one expects that any politician can be the digital revolution guru that Rowley claims will be our leader to take us into the digital stratosphere, is an AAS degree the best we have to offer in this land of PhDs, MScs, and BScs?
To begin with, the first step in going cashless is for the Central Bank to introduce digital currency (CBDC). However, according to the Cato Institute, "A CBDC could undermine both the foundation and future of financial markets by reducing credit availability, disintermediating banks, and challenging the rise of cryptocurrency. A CBDC would be one of the tools to fight crypto."
Moreover, "One of the disadvantages of CBDCs is the potential for privacy risks. Digital currencies are vulnerable to cyberattacks, which can result in the loss of funds or sensitive information. The impact of CBDCs on privacy is vast, as they can be used to track individuals' financial activities" – zebpay.com
Looking at the world where Rowley wants us to compete digitally, most countries are far from going cashless. While some are dead set against it. "In Nigeria, citizens have taken to the streets to protest the nation's cash shortage, further objecting to their government's implementation of a central bank digital currency (CBDC). The shortage came about due to cash restrictions aimed at pushing the country into a 100 per cent cashless economy."
Another disadvantage of a cashless society is that we are also an ageing society, where the elderly are already sceptical of banks. "Consumers may face fraud, identity theft, or cyberattacks that compromise their personal or financial information. They may also lose access to their funds or accounts if they lose their card or phone, forget their password or PIN, or experience network or system failures" – dnbcf.com
That leads us to our forex shortage. Since CBDC is based on our own Central Bank's currency, according to Investopedia, "A central bank digital currency (CBDC) is the digital form of a country's fiat currency. A nation's monetary authority, or central bank, issues a CBDC, which promotes financial inclusion and simplifies implementing monetary and fiscal policy." So, no help in the forex shortage there.
So, let us not look for scapegoats like we did in the TSTT data breach. One doesn't have to be an economist to understand that digital currency will be your Waterloo, Rowley. You only have to look at the lines snaking around the banks at the end of the month to realise that.
TT is fundamentally a cash-based society, and no matter what the Prime Minister's vision of cashless is, he is sure to admit, in the end, that forcing people into TT's digital currency is sure to be a failure. Much of our society, such as vendors, small businesses, etc, are strictly cash and carry. So, Dr Rowley, any attempt to change that will surely be your downfall.