back to article When cash is King, mobile money means economic freedom

Last month, flipping through the pages of the Daily Nation - Kenya’s tabloid newspaper of crime, politics and corruption - I came across the story of a police officer undone by his mobile. It seems this officer - who earned the equivalent of a few hundred dollars a year - saw many times that amount pass through his hands on a …

  1. Ole Juul

    Complacency and technology

    New technology can bite you if you don't think it through. This guy did claim to be an engineer, though judging by his stream of excuses, that could be in doubt. In the end, I think it is really the complacency that got him into trouble. He's used to getting away with this sort of thing and it's apparently the police culture there. If he had thought it could have caused him trouble, he could probably have used cash or covered his tracks more effectively, but a nice friendly and ubiquitous mobile app just didn't trigger any warnings for him.

    But anyway, yes, we could sure use M-Pesa here in Canada.

  2. All names Taken

    I'd guess that HMRC in the UK has been doing that for years.

    For example: identify dodgy pizza parlours by comparing declared sales with use of pizza takeaway boxes no?

    1. Velv

      Don't know why you put the joke alert icon, that's exactly what HMRC do.

      It goes even further. HMRC know, for example, exactly how many meals each type of restaurant can get out of a chicken. Posh French might get two meals per chicken, Italian might get four, Indian six and Chinese eight. They also know (and feed back to trading standards) when a restaurant deviates from the model and is selling more meals than they buy chickens, thus implying the local cat population is at risk.

      As always, it's just a model, but it proves that if you're attempting anything out of the ordinary you're going to stand out. Got to buy the boxes to match the sales. So if your local purveyor of genuine Italian pizza is regularly taking unused boxes to the recycling, they probably are genuine Italian of Sicilian extraction.

  3. Terry Cloth
    Thumb Down

    Oh, great! So now the gov't will know every penny I spend

    I treasure cash. It's nobody's business (except maybe my spouse's) what I rent down at the local black-window video purveyor. (Said as I get the folding money to pay for my auto's bodywork bill....)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    digital is ok as long as it can't be broken, for an interesting read on this (though not a technical novel) try 'the cryptographer' which is set in a near future with a global digital currency. Written by tobias hill over 10 years ago

  5. JaitcH

    Real C.A.S.H. is still king: Kenya’s 'cash economy' - has audit trails

    The one thing that C.A.S.H. doesn't generate is an audit trail!

    I live with C.A.S.H., it is truly wonderful - even government agencies in VietNam love cash. For example, the national electricity generator orders many line installation accessories, such as brackets, clamps, angle supports, etc.

    To 'stretch' their budgets, this government owned agency pays C.A.S.H. to avoid paying 10% VAT. There is a law, however, that requires payments over USD$3,500 value to be paid by bank transfer. Instead, the company, EVN, sends men out each day with satchels filled with billions of Dong and they go around settling accounts. No VAT! If the amount owed exceeds USD$3,5000 they make repeat daily calls until the debt is satisfied.

    For many reasons, I treasure my privacy. I can travel and not leave a 'mouse trail' of credit card charges which can be brought up real time on screens in police an national security offices in many countries around the world. HMRC loves 'audit trails', too, to check that your declared income jives with your known out going. I can enjoy a sumptuous meal and not have Plod know anything about what or where or when.

    International 'ethnic' banking needs C.A.S.H.. This is the banking system that can 'transmit' tens of thousands of Pounds almost anywhere in the world for a miserly GBP20 per transaction. And often overnight.

    Try THAT with the HSBC! Usually a minimum of GBP40 plus two days and NOT delivered in the currency paid in. And they make a fortune by using strange rates of exchange.

    PayPal, Moneygram, Western Union are all US banking facilities and the US government has pipelines into their servers.

    Even governments are getting into Bitcoin and you can guarantee they aren't doing it for YOUR benefit.

    C.A.S.H. is quick, too, those who wait in supermarket line-ups can attest to that.

    I have, on occasion, handled large sums of money. I always transfer them between one bank to another in C.A.S.H., in amounts less than USD$10,000, as it breaks the audit trail. NEVER accept a 'cashiers cheque' - they are easily traced.

    Mark Pesce, the author shows his ignorance when he says: "In the ‘developed world’ we use slow and antique systems like clearinghouses to settle our payments, a process that can take days".

    These clearinghouses are used to settle accounts between BANKS. Not 'clear (individual) cheques'.

    A bank receiving a cheque for deposit, completes the magnetic character coding for the cheques it receives, regardless on which bank they are drawn and then they are scanned into the receiving banks network. The physical cheques travel at a more leisurely pace to individual cheques processing facilities where they are scanned and photographed back and front.

    The digital data is used to achieve a total of cheques received from the various banks in the country. Each morning, at the 'clearinghouse' a bunch of suits sit down at a precise time, and they exchange totals.

    Say the HSBC has cheques worth £10.5-billion drawn on Lloyds accounts, and £4.4-billion drawn on Barclays, rather than moving the cash around, these amounts are offset by cheques drawn HSBC - the outstanding debits and credits are 'cleared'.

    And woe is the bank that is late for 'clearing' - interest starts getting clocked from the stipulated time.

    Banks hate cheques and they hate cash - cash is their vaults isn't making interest.

    So away with your digital this and digital that, the REAL thing can't be beat!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Real C.A.S.H. is still king: Kenya’s 'cash economy' - has audit trails

      that's another reason to ban cash, people that don't pay taxes and black market economy. Or do you admit you are a criminal?

  6. Jesus45

    i though i will not be around to see the day theregister stops bashing bitcoin, looks like this day has come.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like