In his fascinating new book, Cloudmoney: Cash, Cards, Crypto and the War for Our Wallets, journalist and fintech expert Brett Scott presents the risks and rewards of a cashless society.

Scott makes it clear that the reach of corporations into our lives via cards and apps has never been greater. Cash is a notably rare sight these days, the efficiency and reliability of cards and apps relegating it to obscurity. While we’re told this is a natural and inevitable move, in reality it is the work of powerful interests.

A DEEP DIVE BENEATH THE SURFACE OF THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM

Scott goes on to tell us that the book is, in essence, “about a merger and an acquisition. The merger is between the forces of Big Finance and those of Big Tech. The acquisition is of power: once the merger is complete, Big Finance and Big Tech will have power over us on a scale the like of which humans have never seen.”

In the book, we dive deep beneath the surface of the global financial system to uncover a long-established lobbying infrastructure: an alliance of partners waging a covert war on cash. He explains the technical, political, and cultural differences between our different forms of money, showing how the cash system has been under attack for decades, as banking and tech companies promote a cashless society under the banner of progress.

Scott is eager to show the world why we should distrust narratives about the supposedly inevitable progress of digital money and finance. For us, this will involve tuning out of the day-to-day chatter of the finance and tech industry, and ignoring the tales told by company CEOs and their acolytes. 

UNCOVER THE TECTONICS OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

The situation is likened to the tide. “Entrepreneurs, like surfers, enjoy telling exciting stories about the waves they ride, but are less interested in meditating on the confluence of hidden forces, like winds out at sea and coral reefs, that produce big swells,” says Scott. “The swells might be the result of a distant earthquake, which is itself the result of unseen plate tectonics. I’d like us to bypass the wave-riding stories and go straight to uncovering the plate tectonics of the global economy.”

An urgent and revelatory story, Cloudmoney warns us about how the fusion of big finance and tech requires digital money underpinned by the banking sector to replace physical cash. This is the great battle of our time, the war for ownership of the digital footprints that make up our lives.

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Brett Scott is an author, journalist and activist exploring the intersections between money systems, finance, and digital technology. He is the author of The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money (Pluto Press, 2013). He is widely known for his journalism and media commentary on banking systems, financial reform, digital finance, financial inclusion, blockchains, hacker culture, technology politics and cashless society in outlets such as The Guardian, New Scientist, Huffington Post, Wired Magazine and CNN.com. He has appeared on BBC World News and Sky News and has spoken at over 250 events in 30 countries, including the World Congress of Accountants, Financial Times Festival of Finance, NESTA, Futurefest and MIPIM. He is a Senior Fellow of the Finance Innovation Lab (UK), an Associate at the Institute of Social Banking (Germany), an advisory group member of the Brixton Pound local currency project and a general assembly member of the Bitcoin Cash Association. He helps run a course on hacker culture and design at the University of the Arts London, and workshops on alternative finance with The London School of Financial Arts. He was a winner of the 2016/2017 Ethics and Trust in Finance Global Prize.