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French Town Tests Cashless Society 302

Posted by Zonk
from the didn't-know-you-could-drive-a-city dept.
SamiousHaze writes to mention a Silicon.com article about an attempt in a French tourist town, Caen, to do away with cash in some locales. From the article: "Among [the locations in the trial] is an underground car park; the town hall; a bus stop which can transmit timetable information; a cinema poster which downloads video trailers to users' mobiles; a local supermarket, where people can pay for their groceries with a mobile phone, and a tourist information sign outside the historic Abbaye des Hommes. By touching the mobile against the 'Flytag' logo at each of these locations, users can pay for services or receive information straight to their phone."
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French Town Tests Cashless Society

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  • by Dynamoo (527749) * on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @12:58PM (#15197902) Homepage
    Normandy isn't a town - it's a whole region. I suspect many Normans regard it as a country in it's own right (bloody Vikings). Specifically, the article mentions Caen (which is a city).

    Now, Caen is an interesting place. It's hardly a sleepy backwater - it's the busiest urban centre in the area. (And the traffic is awful). It's actually a very modern, thriving city that was rebuilt after being almost completely destroyed in the aftermath of the D-Day invasion in 1944 (even most of the pretty bits are actually restoration of the original buldings). I'd suggest that of all the places I've been to in France, Caen is certainly one of the top runners when it comes to modernity.

    Also, the French are pretty keen on their plastic and were early adopters of payment cards and related technologies. So.. it'll be interesting to see how this experiment pans out because it's being carried out in more-or-less ideal conditions.

  • Re:Loss of privacy (Score:3, Informative)

    by wfberg (24378) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @01:09PM (#15198015)
    In a truely cashless society, there would be no way to have private transactions.

    Except for digicash [acm.org]. (Sadly, the company folded.. No government or corporation really stands to benefit from secure anonymous electronic cash, just private citizens/consumers.
  • Re:Loss of privacy (Score:3, Informative)

    by mspohr (589790) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @01:50PM (#15198444)
    Actually, the IRS says that the greatest loss to tax evasion is from small businesses (restaurants, beauty salons, etc.) that are paid in cash. These people have lots of opportunity to pocket cash and not report it. A cashless environment would track every transaction and greatly improve tax reporting and collection.
  • Re:Been and done (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:15PM (#15199177)
    I have to admit that I don't know about Mondo, but I have personally seen how the german equivalent ("geldkarte", could be translated as "money card") works. Of course, that usually happens when it fails, and with only DM 5 (about US$ 2.50) ever charged on the card and three or four transactions in total, I encountered a parking ticket machine that made the chip completely unusable. I first complained to the bank that happened to operate the parking garage, and they just sent me to my bank, claiming that they themselves couldn't do anything, but that my bank could fix this. I was quite surperised to see that my bank operated a 'shadow account' for my "geldkarte" that was only indeirectly associated with my normal accounts. In this account all transactions that I had ever made with this card over the course of about 6 months were stored, including tests that had been cancelled immediately. Seeing that my card was actually broken, they just calculated the remaining 'value' that should have been left, closed the 'shadow account' and transferred the balance to my normal account.

    In short, at least the german version doesn't give you too much privacy; the merchant gets the 'shadow account' number (and therefore, if merchants colluded, they could still construct a profile of what you buy where), and the bank gets to know everything about your purchases with the card.
  • by juancnuno (946732) <juancnuno@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @07:56PM (#15201371)

    I'm a big advocate of the cashless society. And I've had arguments over that exact point. I firmly believe it's possible to set up a cashless system and allow for anonymous transactions.

    Go to the cash card store, use your credit card to buy a $500 cash card, and use that to buy things you'd rather not have anyone else know about. All the cash card needs to do is keep track of how much it's worth. Yes, your credit card statement will have the $500 record, but it won't be itemized.

  • Re:Loss of privacy (Score:3, Informative)

    by mgblst (80109) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @04:35AM (#15203151) Homepage
    Must be in the UK, they love cheques over here. I hadn't seen a cheque for about 10 years before coming over here.

    As to those people who don't use cash, I hate waiting behind you in the supermarket - especially the 3 items of less line. Can't even carry around £5. If they made it instantaneous, fine - but wasting any more time than is necessary really gets to me.

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