back to article Programmable or 'purpose-bound' money is coming, probably as a feature in central bank digital currencies

As the tide of enthusiasm for cryptocurrency ebbs, new forms of digital currency are emerging, including something called purpose bound money (PBM) – digibucks that can only be spent in certain ways coded into them by their issuers, or would only change hands under certain conditions. The core idea of PBM is that its issuer …

  1. Catkin Silver badge

    Permanent status quo

    It strikes me that expiring, restricted use financial tokens would empower any oppressive government to starve out opposition. Naturally, it would be presented as a simply wonderful way to ensure no one ever goes hungry or homeless because a portion of their "money" can only be spent on approved essentials but exerting control over savings and discretionary funding hamstrings political organisation.

    "Better" still, a blockchain system or any centrally controlled token system would allow the flow of money to be tracked in such detail that anyone financially associating with the politically undesirable can be swiftly identified and locked down. For example, a protest group might be identified and a trigger set if it detects attempts at travel towards any geographical centre (through geolocation of purchases) to mysteriously lock their tokens for anything that might help the protest happen. In essence, unpersoning becomes as easy as tripping an algorithm.

    I don't predict this definitely will happen, it's more that it would empower any government that wants to to do it.

    1. AustinTX

      Re: Permanent status quo

      See wikipedia for "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" by Cory Doctorow where they use a form of currency called "Whuffie" that is exchanged among citizens who struggle to please each other over social media.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Permanent status quo

        I've tried. You can't please Cory via social media. In fact, if he's reading this, he's still wrong.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: Permanent status quo

      because a portion of their "money" can only be spent on approved essentials

      This is designed to appeal to small minded individuals (mostly voters of certain party) where they believe if someone has little money, they are not allowed to experience any kind of pleasure.

      It will also create underground market, where people will be exchanging essentials for things they actually want.

      I don't predict this definitely will happen, it's more that it would empower any government that wants to to do it.

      Only reason this probably won't happen is corruption and tax avoidance will be clearly visible. Of course there are always ways to address that...

      1. Bebu Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Permanent status quo

        《 because a portion of their "money" can only be spent on approved essentials

        This is designed to appeal to small minded individuals (mostly voters of certain party) where they believe if someone has little money, they are not allowed to experience any kind of pleasure.》

        Australia has been tbere (and back.)

        Cashless Welfare Card

        The mandatory application of the scheme where it was implemented led to all sorts of problems especially in regional areas where access to non-cash services is extremely limited.

        The certain party here was the LNP federal government. The LNP is a particularly nasty colonial version of the Tories. A former LNP prime minister is in the UK advising their loony Tories on how to "stop the boats.

        So I imagine this crypto version of the "Cashless Welfare Card" is another Sunak wettie.

        Don't the Brits have the backbone to dispose of these useless berks? With a decent song (see Mireille Mathieu giving la Marseillaise a bit of welly) the French got rid of theirs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Permanent status quo

          Many years ago a friend of mine was contracted to produce an in-house card payment system for meals at a large private school in Scotland. One of the required features was that Jewish pupils were barred from buying non-kosher food.

          1. Claverhouse Silver badge

            Re: Permanent status quo

            Well, that would be handy for governments of a certain persuasion to identify rootless cosmopolitans.

            1. Stork

              Re: Permanent status quo

              Ah, you mean citizens of nowhere?

              1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

                Re: Permanent status quo

                You are Theresa May and I claim my five pounds.

        2. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: Permanent status quo

          "So I imagine this crypto version of the "Cashless Welfare Card" is another Sunak wettie."

          And Starmer!

          Limiting what we can and can't buy is a wet dream of pretty much every 'I know what is best for you' politician. Just look at the NZ tobacco debacle.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Permanent status quo

            "Limiting what we can and can't buy is a wet dream of pretty much every 'I know what is best for you' politician. Just look at the NZ tobacco debacle."

            I did notice during lockdowns that the parents of kids that weren't getting the usual free lunches were covered in tatts and bits of shrapnel. They can't feed their children, but can afford to play the part of a pin cushion. If you are on the dole, I don't see a problem with the funds being restricted to essentials such as food and housing. OTOH, money you earn should have no restrictions. If something is legal to purchase, you can spend your money on that and eat ramen noodles the rest of the month if you like.

            1. iain666

              Re: Permanent status quo

              The thing about piercings (mostly) and tattoos is that once you get them they're there forever. You cannot know if the parents you are judging got them when they were parents relying on benefits or whether they had them long before that point.

              I don't see a problem with your funds (and only yours) being restricted to bread and water - we should do that.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Permanent status quo

              If you are on the dole, I don't see a problem with the funds being restricted to essentials such as food and housing.

              Abso-fucking-lutely. If you are sucking on the governments tit, no frivs for you.

              So lets start by paying our MP's with Miserycard, then once that is an unqualified success for one term, all the pensioners, and then move on to the dole bludgers and single mums.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Permanent status quo

          Don't the Brits have the backbone to dispose of these useless berks?

          We're sadly much too polite and downtrodden to hold an actual revolution, even though plenty of people down the pub are thoroughly pissed off that the current crop of politicians appear to only really be interested with making the richest 0.1% even richer, and staying in power.

          If there was enough support I'd be well up for getting the guillotines out a la France. I've got an ever-growing list of candidates for the chop.

          Unfortunately we're just going to have to wait until our next election hopefully in less than 12 months, and send the scumbags packing then...

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Permanent status quo

            We're sadly much too polite and downtrodden to hold an actual revolution

            Thatcher might beg to differ if she were still around to do so.

            M.

          2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Permanent status quo

            Unfortunately, the election will only replace the current scumbags with near-identical sumbags who hate freedom even more.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Permanent status quo

              "Unfortunately, the election will only replace the current scumbags with near-identical sumbags who hate freedom even more."

              The longer they've been in, the more corrupt they are. It takes at least one term to get their legs under them and learn the sort of graft they can get away with vs. what gets spotted and will have them thrown out. Replacing politicians at each election also forces the outgoing mob to maybe need to find real jobs. At least a real job for a while. Corporations tend to invest the most in politicians that they see will be in for a good long time. Break the chain and realize that even if you have to vote for "the other guy", if they are new, they aren't likely to be able to do as much damage as somebody running for their 8th term. When the choice is between two career politicians, all I can suggest is printing a chart and affixing it to the dart board.

              1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

                Re: Permanent status quo

                But the Civil Service (a.k.a "the blob") get to stay until they retire on the fat pension we buy for them. And they really control things.

                1. xyz Silver badge

                  Re: Permanent status quo

                  For English types... Having huge experience in paper-to-paper combat with civil servants, what the right wing bitches about "the blob" is certainly true, however the right wing is completely barking on anything else. Civil servants above base grade are lazy useless fucks who'll do anything to keep the status quo (aka their pensions), however when faced with the likes of Braverman and Gove plus the rabid rantings of GB News, The Express and The Daily Mail I kinda find myself laughing.

                  Always remember that Civil Servants have years of passive aggressive martial arts experience to fend off any attack and have been breeding for generations.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Permanent status quo

                    Perhaps not so much breeding as vegetative growth

                2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: Permanent status quo

                  "But the Civil Service (a.k.a "the blob") get to stay until they retire on the fat pension we buy for them."

                  The pension is the change found in the sofa cushions. The graft is where they make the most money.

          3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

            Re: Permanent status quo

            But then the other scumbags get in.

            1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

              Re: Permanent status quo

              There are more than two parties. Perhaps UK voters should try voting for some of the others.

              And yes, the system makes that hard. Perhaps UK voters should try changing the system.

              1. Helcat

                Re: Permanent status quo

                "Perhaps UK voters should try changing the system."

                We've tried, but to make that change we need a party that'll actually commit to doing so. Some parties have promised they'd change the system - but when they get elected... oh, look: Tumbleweed!

      2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Permanent status quo

        These ideas are not being pushed by one side of the political spectrum. Look around the world, instead of trying to tie it into your petty local political team sport; governments from far left to far right are all singing from the same hymn book on this idea.

        1. Catkin Silver badge

          Re: Permanent status quo

          Political commentary of old:

          -a well synthesised, accessible explanation of how current events tie into past decisions and potential future outcomes

          Current political commentary:

          -why it's good that the good guy is doing something the bad guy previously did (rare, since it requires acknowledgement)

          -why it's bad that the bad guy is doing something the good guy previously did

          -why it's bad that the bad guy is doing something we previously vigorously supported but the good guy didn't do

          -puff piece on the entirely synthetic social life of the good guy

        2. nijam Silver badge

          Re: Permanent status quo

          > ... not being pushed by one side of the political spectrum.

          You're looking at the "spectrum" from the wrong direction. The "sides" here are, on the one hand governments, and on the other everyone else.

          So yes, definitely being pushed by one of those sides.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Corruption and tax avoidance will be clearly visible.

        And the Government definitely doesn't want those crimes exposed ... as our MPs are likely the main offenders :P

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Corruption and tax avoidance will be clearly visible.

          "as our MPs are likely the main offenders :P"

          They are until they can attach some legislation that excuses them to something that must pass.

    3. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

      Re: Permanent status quo

      On the other foot if it can/could, then somewhere it will be...

    4. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
      Unhappy

      Re: Permanent status quo

      My worry is that the places that are supposed to accept the payments would deliberately try and make it their the hardest payment method to use, to try and get purchases made with another payment method so that people have to then come back and spend the "purpose-bound" money in the place they were supposed to spend it - making more sales.

      But that's just me being cynical. Isn't it?

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Permanent status quo

        "But that's just me being cynical. Isn't it?"

        Not at all. If the game can be perverted to gain an advantage, that's what will happen. It's very important to look for the loopholes and the unintended consequences. The bad guys will find them in very short order. Only the stupid ones get caught.

    5. Tron Silver badge

      Re: Permanent status quo

      To some extent this already exists. Governments can ban you from buying stuff from some people or some countries using specific payment services. They add hurdles for 'security' and use them for oppressive control. Some ebay stores and products are already invisible to users in some countries, and some .co.uk sites won't let you buy stuff from China with your plastic - you have to use the .com site.

      It is basically a mechanism for social control by fascist regimes, so avoid it when you can, keep using cash, and hate your government if they use such mechanisms to manipulate or oppress you.

  2. AustinTX
    Big Brother

    They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

    Looks like we're going back to the 1960's and early 70's. Stores kept rolls of these stamps like tiny movie tickets and then give you a number according to the size of your purchase. You would take these home, lick 'em and slap them in a booklet, and once you had the pages full you could redeem them through the mail for prizes like dishware or appliances. Sort of like coupons, sort of like ration books. Sort of like gift certificates.

    Each store had their own system of stamps, and each kind had a different party to redeem them through. You weren't supposed to sell them to other people but you could. Collectors might have different sets of stamps that were only good for certain things. When the stores stopped distributing stamps, lots of people were left with worthless booklets they couldn't redeem anyplace but maybe save for display in a museum 100 years later.

    Today, you can get special debit cards for your kids (or employees) that are only good for certain merchants, certain days/times/locations, or even only certain specific products.

    As for me, I don't think I want my employer paying me in kind with instruments that are only good for a certain amount of food, a certain amount of gas, a certain amount of rent or mortgage. I also don't want to use a special kind of money that I pay up front but a service provider only receives once their work is done or product delivered. That's not an awful idea on its face, but I would rather there be a disinterested third party acting as broker instead of it being the currency of my country.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

      Se Truck Acts.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

        You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

        Another day older and deeper in debt

        Saint Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go

        I owe my soul to the company store

        1. Rafael #872397
          Thumb Up

          Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

          I wish I could upvote you more than once... or remove this earworm from my head :-)

        2. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

          Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

          I used to think my daddy was a black man

          he scrimped enough to buy the company store

          But now he goes to town with empty pockets

          And his face is white as a February snow

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

        Many years ago, when my dear old Dad was head teacher of a large Glasgow school, the teaching unions used the Truck Acts to stick it to the local council. Their members simply demanded, as was their right, to be paid in cash. This landed their employers with the need to obtain, count and distribute many millions of pounds in cash every month. This is not a trivial or cheap thing to do, and the council caved very quickly.

        Soon afterwards, Mrs Thatcher's government changed that provision of the act.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

      I don't think I want my employer paying me in kind with instruments that are only good for a certain amount of food, a certain amount of gas, a certain amount of rent or mortgage.

      I mean it is only fair if you could do only certain parts of your job.

      Like if you are a developer you would skip every 5th keyword in your code or if you are a roofer, you would only do two rows of tiles and no more.

    3. AVR

      Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

      The New World supermarket chain still uses something like those stamps periodically in NZ. One sticker per full $20 spent over a period of a few months, some number of stickers gets you a cheap frying pan or a couple of glasses or whatever's on their list of rewards for this period.

      I expect the e-money stuff being talked about isn't so much for voluntary use and more for those who can't avoid it for some reason. They don't seem to be talking up benefits to the consumer.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

        The only point of it is the 5-10% that "tech" will take for running it, plus the extra skim that the "enablers" will add.

        So you can only buy 90% of the food you used to buy when you got given the money directly. Good, you're too fat and ignorant already, a bit of hunger should sort you out.

    4. MacGuffin

      Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

      Knights of the Green Shield Stamp and Shout.....

    5. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

      "Today, you can get special debit cards for your kids (or employees) that are only good for certain merchants, certain days/times/locations, or even only certain specific products."

      Those are good for things like petrol where an employer is providing a car and fuel, but doesn't want an employee buying non-deductible things such as coffee and buns. A parent may want their kid to have money for a bus, but not be able to spend it at the sweet shop or to book a train to the coast. These are special use cases and turning them into a general use case is not going to be progress (opposite of Congress).

    6. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

      "As for me, I don't think I want my employer paying me in kind with instruments that are only good for a certain amount of food, a certain amount of gas, a certain amount of rent or mortgage."

      There can be certain tax advantages for an employer if they pay for housing, food, etc. I'd want to look at the details. If I was receiving more value than what I'd get in salary, I might be interested. There would have to be non-restricted salary as well.

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

        There can be certain tax advantages for an employer if they pay for housing, food, etc.
        Well, that sounds like a problem with the tax system. Which is unsurprising, as it was originally intended to make it possible to calculate how much tax everybody owed, without the benefit of computers and using imperial currency. And no doubt subtly altered over the years to favour the rich.

        What if we ripped the whole thing up and started again? For example, instead of taxing workers according to their income, what if we taxed employers on the wages they pay to workers, following a quadratic regression so there are no "tax bands" to game? (Or each possible amount is in its own, 1p wide tax band .....)

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

          "Well, that sounds like a problem with the tax system."

          The tax system is nothing but problems.

          Way back in the US, Steve Forbes, a Presidential candidate, proposed to implement a flat tax. Everybody, with a lower cutoff, paid a flat low percentage as income tax. I'm not enough of an economist to know how hard it would be to implement that, but it would solve a lot of the gaming that goes on and a ton of special interest lobbying for "carve outs". It would also mean annual returns could be done on one sheet of paper. Steve suggested it would be a post card, but I doubt it could be reduced that far.

          The housing and food provisions are there for situations such as off-short oil platforms and cruise ships are providing those to the employees since commuting is out of the question. There's a fixed reimbursement for both that gives a lot of room for a company to see some margin. As an employee, it also works out well over being paid more and needing to purchase meals at retail.

          1. damienblackburn

            Re: They call these "savings stamps" or "green stamps"

            Flat tax is a scam, pure and simple. It proposes that only a sales tax is paid, increased to account for no income, property, etc. taxes. The idea is that things that are bought are taxed directly so no matter what there's income. The issue is that lower and middle class persons spend a much larger percentage of their income on goods than upper class do.

            There's also an exception for business-to-business transactions. So I form a LLC and do everything on behalf of it and now I don't pay taxes. Fucking brilliant idea there.

  3. ecofeco Silver badge

    Oh hell no

    It's company script all over again.

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Re: Oh hell no

      The proper word is, "scrip", not "script". But you are right. I don't even like "gift cards", because I don't necessarily want to patronize retailer x, but must do so to extract the value from the card.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh hell no

        I have a John Lewis gift car bought for me by my colleagues when I retired a month back. It was kind of them, but it's utterly useless to me, because there is absolutely nothing at John Lewis which I would ever buy, and I detest Waitrose. So I expect I'll do what I did with the last one I got (long service award) and sell it on eBay. Got 98.7% of face value last time.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Oh hell no

          "I have a John Lewis gift car bought for me by my colleagues when I retired a month back. It was kind of them, but it's utterly useless to me, because there is absolutely nothing at John Lewis which I would ever buy"

          I had the same thing happen with a gift card, but I did finally use it and it came in handy at the time. Inventories change at stores and sometimes you might have little choice of where to shop in an area. What can drive me bonkers is a gift card for a store that charges way more than anybody else for similar items. The gifter could have slipped me the lesser amount of cash for the same value I'll receive. I know, giving cash is impolite, but I've never been PC.

      2. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

        Re: Oh hell no

        Yeah staff R&R awards, here's a e-chit to buy something at the overpriced place that cost more than elsewhere so the 'scheme provider' can make a cut out of the middle.

        Nothing really handy like an amazon voucher or Paypal code, oh no that might be too useful...

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Oh hell no

          "Nothing really handy like an amazon voucher or Paypal code, oh no that might be too useful..."

          So you can buy some cheap Chinese counterfeit item from Amazon or have PayPal reject the purchase for the item not conforming to company values.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Oh hell no

        Thanks.

        Damn autocorrect.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Oh hell no

      Its worse. With company scrip I could pay you in scrip to fix my car, or you could pay me to mow your lawn. This "money" could prevent transactions with anyone but the company store, so no more selling services between workers or buying black market items from the shady guy at the company watering hole.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    16 Tons and what do you get?

    I imagine the American Republicans would love this. Imagine paying wage slaves with money that can't be used outside of the United States.

    1. AustinTX

      Re: 16 Tons and what do you get?

      Or outside of your own store, or for anything health or baby related? ;)

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: 16 Tons and what do you get?

      Only if that money, if paid to Walmart, couldn't be used by Walmart to import stuff from China. Not many people are buying goods directly from China, almost all of it is via Walmart, Amazon, and so forth.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: 16 Tons and what do you get?

      The entire point of currency is that it can be exchanged for anything.

      Take that away, and you either create a healthy grey/black market, exchanging it for other things at a discount, or almost everyone rejects them as worthless.

      - This is after all how currency was invented in the first place.

      Aside from that, if the scrip can only be used to buy (eg) bread, what does the store do with it?

      Does it magically become "fungible" once transferred to the "right" entity?

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: 16 Tons and what do you get?

        Does it magically become "fungible" once transferred to the "right" entity?

        Whoever creates it obviously has "root access" to it and can trade it for "real" money so the company store can buy bread from the outside world to place on the shelves. But only those who have that special relationship with the company would have access to trade their scrip for hard cash. So Mr. Store Owner better not piss off the company owner or suddenly he's left with a lot of scrip and no dollars and his shelves go bare, and the company owner's nephew opens a new store across town.

        1. aks

          Re: 16 Tons and what do you get?

          The hackers are already getting prepared.

          1. JulieM Silver badge

            Re: 16 Tons and what do you get?

            Fair enough.

            All the protections built into digital currencies are designed to prevent it from being transferred between parties without due authorisation.

            How robust are digital currencies against simply being wiped from existence? What if the record saying who owned the virtual pound note bearing a given serial number was just deleted?

            Even a traditional bank vault is designed with the assumption in mind that any miscreant will eventually seek to escape with the money; as opposed to committing arson and suicide, using it as the fuel for their own funeral pyre.

      2. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: 16 Tons and what do you get?

        I think that is where the "wrapper" comes in: the store can remove the original wrapper and wrap the sweet in a different wrapper.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: 16 Tons and what do you get?

        "Does it magically become "fungible" once transferred to the "right" entity?"

        Yes or no. Either it does become fungible or the issuer is part of a closed loop where they can apply a big mark up on the product or service.

  5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Not like gift cards...

    CBDCs, unlike gift cards should/will have the same guarantee as per the folding stuff - unlike the gift cards where if the issuer goes under, then, so does the amount of your holding. Otherwise, yes, the way you spend it is more akin to a gift card than the folding stuff.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Not like gift cards...

      Negative interest is already a thing with gift cards, too.

      Most of the card-based gift cards start rapidly losing their value after a few short months, becoming completely worthless in under two years.

      If you get any this Christmas, spend 'em immediately!

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Not like gift cards...

      "CBDCs, unlike gift cards should/will have the same guarantee as per the folding stuff"

      By their very nature, CBDC's are easy to abuse and can't be the same as banknotes. You don't want to be sat in a government office across the desk from somebody that has a display/printout of your purchases and graphs of one thing vs another. "Well my friend, I see here that you spend 12.8% of your net income on booze. Tsk Tsk."

  6. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Conspiracy theory

    If someone talks in a dismissive way, calling it a "conspiracy theory".

    It generally means few things:

    - They were born yesterday

    - They have slept through history classes

    - Have not read any books

    - They live sheltered live and have not been exposed to the real world

    - Blindly believe that government of their choice will do the right thing

    - They think it will not happen to them

    The reality is that cash is the last pillar of freedom. If that is taken away, then you'll become a slave, where your master will dictate how you can use your earnings.

    "But but the government will use it for good purpose! Surely it will be good for money to have limits how many sugary products you can buy in a month or that you don't keep the money under the mattress, but you circulate the money back to the economy!"

    Sure. Current government might.

    The next government, however, may use it to exclude undesirable group of people from living. If you won't be able to buy food and anyone lending / giving you money will get excluded too...

    On the bright side, people will return to barter and then eventually underground currency will come out and become new cash that government won't be able to control.

    1. ChoHag Silver badge

      Re: Conspiracy theory

      > Sure. Current government might.

      I was with you until this bit.

  7. IGotOut Silver badge

    Two Words to sum this up.

    They are

    Fuck

    & Off

  8. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Good god, having my savings worn away by inflation is bad enough, having them VANISH because they "expire" is horrendous. Lamp-post, piano wire.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Lamp-post, piano wire."

      I'm hoping you mean a pair of lamp posts somewhere in the vicinity of No. 10.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why gift cards

    They say it's just like cash. Only, it's just like cash that can only be spent at a certain store. It's only like cash until a certain date, whereupon it vanishes. It's just like cash only how I use it is tied to the card recipient. Not much like cash at all.

    I don't understand why it's even a thing. People spend $50 to buy a $50 gift card that can only be used to buy things from somewhere I might never want to shop. Why not give $50, which can be spent anywhere and never goes out of date?

    One of my clients issues loyalty cards for their clients. They make 10c per card, which is a huge loss leader, but they keep any funds that aren't spent before they expire. They make millions.

    Gift cards are a shot of crick. And to tie this to TFA, purpose-bound money sounds the same but worse.

    For money, nothing is as good as money.

    AC for obvious reasons

    1. Nifty

      Re: Why gift cards

      Like cash then. 20% of my savings disappeared over 2 years of UK inflation. I should have spent them before their best by date.

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Why gift cards

      I have heard - from people who gave up working for them in disgust - that the financial model of many (or all?) of those 'experience days' companies is simply that most people never use the tokens; even if they do use them the company profits from its cut and any interest on the cash, but if they don't, it's all gravy.

      A friend who provides a service which can be bought this way is moving out of them simply because the paperwork overhead is such a pain; he gets better profit at less hassle when his customers deal direct.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why gift cards

        A relative who specialises in awkward gifts gave our children a set of experience tokens at Christmas 2019. Guess how successful we were at reclaiming those? It would have been bad enough in a normal year they were all for different experiences so that's multiple trips to use the tokens one at a time and probably additional tickets bought because 12 year-old can't do activity <enter title here> without an adult present.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Why gift cards

          "A relative who specialises in awkward gifts gave our children a set of experience tokens at Christmas 2019."

          It would have been better to buy the kids a full set of books on the Robber-Barons of the early 1900's of the US. Much better lessons in life skills.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why gift cards

        The whole experience industry in the UK relies on non redemption

        One provider that I have knowledge of uses the base figure of 25% of experiences sold will have nobody try and use them so they get the cash for doing nothing, another interesting trick was (don't know if it's still true) that VAT only became payable when the service was provided (i.e. the experience used), so for any experience that expired the company also got to keep the amount charged as VAT

    3. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Why gift cards

      People spend $50 to buy a $50 gift card that can only be used to buy things from somewhere I might never want to shop. Why not give $50, which can be spent anywhere and never goes out of date?

      (not defending this purpose-bound money by the way)

      You used (in the UK) to be able to buy "book tokens" which were valid in any book shop to buy books, and some shops let you buy other things too (commonly a bookshop might have a stationery section). (Actually you can still get fairly universal tokens).

      Book tokens were often gifts from well-meaning relatives who wanted to make sure that nephews or grandchildren got something "improving" out of their birthday gift and didn't just spend a cash gift on more Lego. They avoided the awkward phonecall a month before Christmas to the parents, "has little Johnny got the full set of Arthur Ransome books?" and were cheaper to post than whichever Mallory Towers "novella" Enid Blyton had banged out this year.

      The demise of the small high-street book shop hasn't helped matters (often blamed at least in part on the demise of the Net Book Agreement but honestly, the NBA was a severe drag on my library-building in my youth) and neither has the rise of on-demand mind-numbing lowest-common-denominator badly-made badly-written, saccharine TV (whether by aerial or online) for children meaning that some children enter nursery not even knowing how to hold a book the right-way-up! This article is from 2018 and some aspects have worsened since, partly blamed on lockdowns.

      I suppose it depends what the gift is for. A £50 gift voucher, even if it is tied to one shop, or one type of good, is not much worse than yet another pair of novelty socks when what you really want is a pack of school socks because they're the ones which wear out. £50 cash (or cheque) is certainly more flexible and you might hope that anyone over about 12 years old would have some self control not to spend all the £50 at the local pick-n-mix, but why deny them the opportunity to visit the local cinema by giving them a gift voucher for a haberdashery store?

      Or, in other words (back to the subject), please don't try to tell me how I can spend my own money!

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Why gift cards

        "and didn't just spend a cash gift on more Lego."

        Hey! I think that the monster amount of Lego me and my friend next door had led to an interest in mechanical engineering and a degree in same. I'm a proponent of building toys such as Lego, Mechano/Erector, Lincoln Logs, etc. The problem is that you can't build anything that interesting until you have a whole bunch of it.

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
          Alert

          Legomania

          Some friends of mine converted their two-car garage into a den, where the family's computers live. It now is 2/3rds full of Lego, and the computer area made more-compact by moving the tables closer together. Lego can be like a cancer ... (Yes, I like Lego, but I don't love Lego.)

          (Icon for, "Beware of creeping Legoism.")

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Why gift cards

      "One of my clients issues loyalty cards for their clients. They make 10c per card, which is a huge loss leader, but they keep any funds that aren't spent before they expire. They make millions."

      Search for how airline rewards miles work for the airlines. No need for conspiracies, clever accounting and how most people never earn enough to redeem them keeps the airlines afloat.

  10. MrGreen

    In the UK 50% of cash machines have already been removed. Lots of shops, restaurants and transportation are now cashless. Contactless payments are the transition to normalise digital payments. The government will offer free digital pounds (CBDC) if people download a digital wallet and people will do it like lambs to the slaughter.

    The CBDC wallet is Digital ID by the back door. Your location will be tracked and your spending will be tracked. The goods that you purchase will be tied to a carbon footprint score.

    CBDC is the END to your privacy and freedom. It hands ultimate control to the government.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      CBDC is the END to your privacy and freedom.

      Cue in:

      "I have nothing to hide and if they find something they don't like? Who cares. It's not like they will do anything about it. When did they last time jailed a burglar? Let's face it. Cash is inconvenient, I'd rather use my card. Look! It's pink! See?"

    2. simonb_london

      Give me freedom of give me death! OK, death it is then...

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Lots of shops, restaurants and transportation are now cashless."

      I can see how transportation benefits as too much time can be spent waiting on people fumbling around to coins. As long as there are kiosks that take cash, I'm fine with needing a payment card. If a shop doesn't take cash, they don't get my business. It the day to day purchases that fleshes out a profile of a person. I keep as much of that paid with cash as possible. I don't have a car payment, but since that sort of thing is tracked several different ways, paying on that isn't going to benefit from using cash. The petrol I put in, where and how often does become a significant data point so I pay cash and on long trips I'll use a prepaid credit card to limit how much cash I keep on me.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      Whilst many places are now cashless they are also selective; there are relatively few places that accept prepaid debit cards.

      I find it strange how many petrol forecourts don’t accept them, yet treat conventional cards as prepaid cards, by getting the bank to okay spend up to a preset limit.

      So I expect many places would refuse to accept the new CBDC…

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Whilst many places are now cashless they are also selective; there are relatively few places that accept prepaid debit cards."

        I've never had an issue in the US, but I often have to go inside to use the card rather than using the card at the pump. What can't be done with the prepaid cards is purchase something outside the country or even within the country if the payment processor is elsewhere.

  11. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "Demurrage can de-incentivize the hoarding of money"

    Used to be called savings and for years we've been encouraged to accumulate them (for example, towards a pension). Now they're to be a "bad thing" that can be expunged remotely?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: "Demurrage can de-incentivize the hoarding of money"

      Will it mean the huge multinationals accumulating billions have expiring money and will be forced to spend it on something like employees before it expires?

      1. Rafael #872397
        Mushroom

        Re: "Demurrage can de-incentivize the hoarding of money"

        I am quite sure the rules will be different for meatbags and companies.

    2. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: "Demurrage can de-incentivize the hoarding of money"

      Just remember what we've been told over the last 12-18 months.

      "what inflation?"

      "Inflation is transitory"

      "Inflation is a good thing"

      "Inflation is your fault for buying expensive things"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And?

        >"Inflation is transitory"

        True. It's called economic cycles. Inflation is mostly over in the US now (3.1%) and following the same trend in the UK (3.9%).

        > "Inflation is a good thing"

        True. Target inflation in OECD countries is around 2%. Not 0%. Without inflation, money does not circulate. With too much inflation, they don't save.

        > "Inflation is your fault for buying expensive things"

        True. Too much money chasing too few goods and services.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: And?

          Fed apologist :)

          We were told it 'would pop up a little and go back down'. Not skyrocket :) And it had been bumbling around at about 2% until covid shut the world down.

          As for too much money chasing too few goods. This was very much supply side inflation as the amount of goods went down and you can't blame people for getting pissy about day to day essentials like food and fuel skyrocketing in price. All topped off by the fed printing money like there is no tomorrow with Powell and Yellen saying 'this won't create inflation'.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: And?

            > "Fed apologist :)"

            Dear Trumpist, economics is a science. There's even a Nobel for that. And Fed Chairmen can even get it. You can give it a try yourself, and let us know how easy it is.

            > And it had been bumbling around at about 2% until covid shut the world down.

            Good observation. Maybe covid had sth to do with it. Look it up on Google. Oh, but maybe you believe that covid wasn't worth lock-downs, masks and vaccines? MAGA cult members often do. Do you?

            > amount of goods went down

            Yep. Global trade routes down. China zero-covid policy and lock-down. You're on the right track.

            > fed printing money like there is no tomorrow

            Learn about 1929... when the FED didn't "print money" when it should have because the US administration was under the control of ignorant republicans and you might understand why "fed printed money".

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: "Demurrage can de-incentivize the hoarding of money"

        > "Inflation is a good thing"

        Only because it is a key part of the modern economic model, which was designed to fleece the masses…

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: "Demurrage can de-incentivize the hoarding of money"

      "Used to be called savings and for years we've been encouraged to accumulate them (for example, towards a pension)."

      See, even then they were molding your financial behavior. Why is a retirement savings account better than paying down a mortgage? Why is paying for something like a car or white goods over time with interest better than paying cash since you shoveled a load of money into an account you can't touch until you're old without serious penalties? While you earn interest at a better rate with a long term account, the banks make even more since they know that money is locked down. Push comes to shove, they can "loan" you some money with that untouchable account as security (less a discount for the penalties if they have to collect). I'm sure there are some books on wealth building, but I can't name one, sorry. Anybody that can, please chime in.

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: "Demurrage can de-incentivize the hoarding of money"

        Exactly. No savings scheme is going to pay you as much in interest as what you're paying out on a mortgage, or else the banks -- whose business model is, more or less, to lend other people's savings that they won't need in too much of a hurry, to people who can demonstrate a need to borrow it and a plan to pay it back in instalments with interest, and not pass on quite all of that interest to the original savers -- would quickly go out of business. If you're in debt, don't bother with savings -- just throw every spare pound at your biggest outstanding, and pay it off as soon as possible. (The only exception is in the case when there is a period during which a penalty for early repayment applies. If so, open a savings account to hold the money you would have used for that purpose, just until that early period expires.) Once you are debt-free (except maybe for a credit card, but even then, try to get that paid off in full each month), then you can begin saving; but don't take out a loan you could cover in full from your own savings. The amount of interest you're missing out on due to having less in the savings account is still cheaper than the interest you would be paying to a bank.

        Oh, and money is complicated stuff. Don't take financial advice from strangers on the Internet.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: "Demurrage can de-incentivize the hoarding of money"

          "Oh, and money is complicated stuff. Don't take financial advice from strangers on the Internet."

          Not blindly, certainly. There can still be good advice if you also do some research to show that it IS good advice.

  12. Sceptic Tank Silver badge
    Big Brother

    If this isn't Big Brother stuff then I don't know what is. Someone can give me money and restrict me to spend it on Chinese-Russian dictionaries within 14 days or loose it, We're soon going back to the gold standard or trading salt among the general populace

    For the longest time I've been wondering how it is legal for something like a data bundle for my smartphone to expire after a while. I paid real money for the service, why should it expire? The money that I gave them didn't expire.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      For low usage, try SMARTY (Three's cheap brand). They offer a monthly rental of (effectively) £5 for unlimited calls and texts, and £1 per GB for data (max 3GB though). If you don't use all the data you have paid for in a particular month, you pay that much less the next month. For example, if you pay £8 per month for calls, texts and up to 3GB data but only use 1.5GB data in the month, next month you are only charged £6.50. With the proliferation of open WiFi networks, you might find you need less mobile data than you think.

      Additionally you can buy "add-on" data at £1 per GB which never expires, so one month you might buy a GB because you've been on holiday and used all your 3GB. However, you return from holiday having only used 400MB extra, so the remaining 600MB stays on your account. Next month you stay within your 3GB limit, and the 600MB is still there "just in case", and the month after, and the one after that.

      Now, there are cheaper ways to buy data if you know you are going to use it but for low usage - and avoiding your "but I've paid for it" issue - that plan seems to work. That said, I see SMARTY now offers 5GB for £6 which obviously works out cheaper than the above if you regularly use more than 1GB of data, though you might end up "losing" quite a lot of data allowance!

      M.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        For low usage, try SMARTY (Three's cheap brand). They offer a monthly rental of (effectively) £5 for unlimited calls and texts, and £1 per GB for data (max 3GB though). If you don't use all the data you have paid for in a particular month, you pay that much less the next month.

        It's fine for calls and texts but for internet it's poor. You can have a reasonable signal but bugger-all data transfer until suddenly the gates open and you enjoy data for ten minutes.

        I don't need much data when out and about so I put up with it for the low cost but definitely a case of buyer beware. It's cheap for a reason..

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          bugger-all data transfer until suddenly the gates open

          That's interesting. Although I am a customer of SMARTY it isn't for my own phone so I'll have to check with the others whether they experience the same thing. They've not complained yet (one account has been active for over 18 months, the other for a year or so).

          One thing I didn't mention above is the 10% group discount too. Means that most months my backup modem costs me £4.50 (£5 plus no data used).

          M.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "For the longest time I've been wondering how it is legal for something like a data bundle for my smartphone to expire after a while. I paid real money for the service, why should it expire? The money that I gave them didn't expire."

      I don't blame them. The money you paid for x amount of service a year ago cost the telco y amount of money to provide. Now, it costs them y + 4% and they don't want to give you that difference. If you would have used all of that data at the time, you would have been to one side of their usage graph that I'm on the opposite side of and the telco has exact statistics. In essence, the money you gave them does expire a little bit all of the time.

      1. AustinTX

        Don't overlook the point that services were paid for, provider got to hold (and invest) the money without delivering all of the services, and now provider wants to not only keep the rest of the money, but they also want to claim that the cost of doing business has risen so prices also must go up. When they literally got everyone's full payment up front, did whatever they could to avoid having to deliver all of the services (and their cost of operation is way lower than what they imply by their prices in the first place) and made bank on all of that free money.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        >” Now, it costs them y + 4%”

        That’s what the idiots want you to believe, in actual fact it now costs them y - x where x is greater than the rate of inflation.

        Eg. Three’s then landmark contract of 15GB for £15, today the deal is at least 60GB for £15…

    3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Alternative Currencies

      About a year ago I walked into a local grocery store, and was amazed to see the gallon-plus-sized bottles of "Tide" brand liquid laundry detergent secured to the shelves with a very-long cable-lock. I asked the clerk, "Why is the laundry detergent locked up? It's not that valuable, and it certainly is bulky. Has there been a rash of shoplifting it?"

      She said, "Yes, there has." and went on to explain it was used by drug dealers as an alternative currency. She didn't know how it was (presumably, eventually) converted back to cash (which was the same thing I had wondered about BitCoins in their infancy).

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Alternative Currencies

        "She said, "Yes, there has." and went on to explain it was used by drug dealers as an alternative currency. She didn't know how it was (presumably, eventually) converted back to cash (which was the same thing I had wondered about BitCoins in their infancy)."

        It can be sold off very easily at boot sales or around the 'hood. Laundry detergent is one of those things that just about everybody uses so there are lots of opportunities for resale.

        The big jugs of detergent can be expensive enough that selling stolen ones at 50% less than retail is enough money for the effort. If police aren't going to be bothered with going after those shoplifters since prosecutors can't be bothered to prefer charges, it's low risk.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Alternative Currencies

          Also those bottles of Laundry detergent aren’t individually serialised, so are effectively untraceable.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why allowances expire

      >> For the longest time I've been wondering how it is legal for something like a data bundle for my smartphone to expire after a while. I paid real money for the service, why should it expire? The money that I gave them didn't expire.

      Each time, you're turning your phone on, you're registering on the network. From the telco's perspective, that costs money. Of course the network costs money, but this is utility after all. But you're also mobilizing resources across the network. Which you're not paying for.

      Each time you receive a call, you're using even more resources: spectrum, power, etc... (that could instead be allocated to paying subscribers). Yet you're not charged for that incoming call (In certain countries, a long, long time ago, you were also charged for picking up calls).

      So, in theory, you could game the plan and just decide you were never going to make any outgoing call but only pick up incoming calls. And then the telco would only make money from off-net interco fees and from on-net calling parties. Since that's unfair, and since people don't manage to understand all these subtleties, telcos were all initially only offering postpaid plans with a base subscription levy representing the right to register to the network. Calls (termed usage) were charged on top of this monthly fee.

      When prepaid became more prevalent, it was not obvious how to replace that monthly fee. So, you can think of your prepaid plan as an unofficial rent with included traffic allowances. When the rent expires. So does your allowance. Otherwise you would not renew you rent and you would just be free-riding the network. This is why your data expires. It's actually a rent with included data.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Why allowances expire

        Your network receives an interconnect fee every time someone calls you from another network, or they receive money from the calling party if it is on the same network. So they are getting paid for the incomming call.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Meh

          Re: Why allowances expire

          > Your network receives an interconnect fee every time someone calls you from another network, or they receive money from the calling party if it is on the same network. So they are getting paid for the incomming[sic] call.

          That's exactly what I wrote above. Read again.

          > "and then the telco would only make money from off-net interco fees and from on-net calling parties."

          But you still did not seem to get it.

          Being registered on a network is not charged directly (at least for prepaid subscribers). It's charged by managing the subscription lifecycle (i.e. obliging subscribers to contribute financially through prepaid reharges).

          >>> --- Receiving incoming calls is a service. CAN YOU JUSTIFY WHY IT SHOULD NOT BE CHARGED? --- <<<

          CMOs who'd give away this kind of service for free would simply not be doing their job properly and would be jeopardising the future of the company they're in charge of.

          Any business aware person working in the telecom business is acutely conscious that this is an industry....

          1/ Where investments are huge (capital intensive).

          2/ That generates less return on equity (ROE) than many other industries.

          3/ Where technological progress is very fast and people have to adapt constantly.

          4/ Where telcos only break even if they invest wisely and if they monetise these investments wisely too.

          That explains why we've evolved, over the past 25 years, from measly 9.6kb/s 2G throughput to multi-Gbps 5G throughput and still pay approximately the same monthly fee.

    5. Julian Bradfield

      Another low usage recommendation: 1pmobile. You have to top up by £3 a month to keep the number, but the credit doesn't expire. I use typically £1 or £2 per month (of data at 1p/MB); when I'm actually going to use non-trivial data, I buy a one-month data bundle.

  13. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Doesn't this invert democracy

    where we tell our elected leaders what THEY can spend OUR money on ?

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Doesn't this invert democracy

      As far as they're concerned, it's not your money. You're just holding it for them for a little while.

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Re: Doesn't this invert democracy

        It's just resting in our account ...

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Doesn't this invert democracy

        "As far as they're concerned, it's not your money. You're just holding it for them for a little while."

        I think it's more that they believe (with zero evidence) that they can build utopia better and faster if they take away your control over your money and they get it instead. Of course, their version of Utopia has them living in a bigger house behind a taller fence with a bigger pool.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Doesn't this invert democracy

      "where we tell our elected leaders what THEY can spend OUR money on ?"

      Posting here at The Register will likely work as well as anything. (which is to say,not at all)

  14. Dave Null

    I can't wait for the tinfoil hat, 15 minute city brigade to hear about this...

    <This is going to be *a disaster* meme>

  15. Winkypop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Great

    A whole new vector for scammers.

    They’ve done huge damage with traditional gift card scams.

  16. David Hicklin Bronze badge

    Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

    ...how about child benefit that the parents can't spend on Booze, cigarette products or lottery tickets?

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

      The US does this with the EBT cards. What tends to happen is they get exchanged for cash.

    2. stiine Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

      It also makes checkout at the grocery store take much longer because the benefits recipients have to separate their EBT goods from their non-EBT goods. They have to be paid for separately, which makes no goddamn sense.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge

        Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

        Job creation scheme, innit ?

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

        "It also makes checkout at the grocery store take much longer because the benefits recipients have to separate their EBT goods from their non-EBT goods. They have to be paid for separately, which makes no goddamn sense."

        Except they don't separate the different items hoping a computer error will let them charge the beer and ciggies to the benefits card. I avoid the shops the day after the benefits are credited if I possibly can. Just ask the cashiers when those day are, they know.

      3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

        Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

        No, they don't have to separate them (at least here). The checker runs the all the purchases through the online computer, which knows which products are eligible for government-benefit payment, and which are not. The computer charges the benefits account for everything which is eligible, and the customer has to pay the rest via cash, credit card, etc.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

          "No, they don't have to separate them (at least here). The checker runs the all the purchases through the online computer, which knows which products are eligible for government-benefit payment, and which are not. The computer charges the benefits account for everything which is eligible, and the customer has to pay the rest via cash, credit card, etc."

          Yes, the shops do that, but then there isn't enough money on the card so they have to choose what to delete, from both piles. There's also the faffing about with two payment methods.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

            "Yes, the shops do that, but then there isn't enough money on the card so they have to choose what to delete, from both piles."

            That's an issue no matter what restrictions exist. If the quantity has any limit at all, then you can hit that limit. The only way to get around that is to increase the limit. As such, it doesn't argue against their recommendation that the specific items you can purchase be restricted.

      4. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

        "They have to be paid for separately"

        Is your supermarket that backward / incompetent / lost in the past? Over here companies can give out meal coupons if they don't have an on-site canteen. Person loads the conveyor belt, items are scanned, and at the end it is automatically broken down into what is eligible (food) and what isn't (non food), and when the coupons are scanned, it only deducts from the food amount. I'm not sure what happens if there's excess. I think, like the holiday vouchers in places like McDonald's, the excess is forfeit. Either way, this stuff is handled automatically so, no, a person doesn't have to sort stuff out and go through the checkout twice.

      5. Ideasource Bronze badge

        Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

        It doesn't have to be that way.

        And it's not that way any of the stores in the Midwest.

        Just gets integrated into the payment processor so that EBT is charged first and the remainder generates a secondary payment.

        That is a failure of the particular store to set up their payment processing correctly.

    3. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

      That is not your decision to make.

      And do you really imagine they will stop at "parents can't spend child benefit on Booze, cigarette products or lottery tickets" ? Preventing such behaviours will inevitably just end up creating a new category of "most harmful or frivolous things on which people spend their money by way of self-care" and give The Authorities something new to clamp down on. (And, yes, self-destructive behaviour absolutely can be a form of self-care. It is possible to hate your job to the point where dying really doesn't seem so terrible, and there can even be some comfort in the thought that your employer will have to pay your eventual replacement more than you and still probably get less work out of them. So if this fag doesn't finish me off, I win, for now; but even if it does, ***** ******** loses.)

      As far as capitalists are concerned, your ability to make decisions for yourself is a bug, not a feature. They want automata, unable to do anything except make more money for them, and they will cheerfully take away your options to do anything else, one at a time.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

        "And do you really imagine they will stop at "parents can't spend child benefit on Booze, cigarette products or lottery tickets" ? Preventing such behaviours will inevitably just end up creating a new category of "most harmful or frivolous things on which people spend their money by way of self-care" and give The Authorities something new to clamp down on. "

        From what I read, you are advocating that a government subsidy should be able to be spent on anything at all. As a taxpayer, I'm not in favor of seeing charity funds going towards luxury items. I'm not against charity, but if somebody whose situation is so desperate that they need help to buy food and keep a roof over their head, I don't want to give them the choice of trading that in on booze, cigs, tatts and tipping the strippers.

        I'm even so callous that I'd like to see some food benefits be applicable to only "ugly" fruit and veg boxes so farmers can sell non-conforming food rather than throwing it away. The upside is those boxes could contain double or more of food over what the pretty stuff sells for. There's a big growing region near me and some of the enterprising farm stands are selling ugly produce now. Last season I bought a big box of wonky carrots cheaply that tasted just as good reduced to carrot juice and chopped up in pies. Some of them were rather humorous.

        1. JulieM Silver badge

          Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

          [I]f somebody whose situation is so desperate that they need help to buy food and keep a roof over their head, I don't want to give them the choice of trading that in on booze, cigs, tatts and tipping the strippers.
          This is where we differ. Giving someone money and then telling them what they can or cannot spend it on is the opposite of charity.

          If someone's situation is so desperate that they need help to buy food and keep a roof over their head, they don't stop needing self-care. If anything, they probably need alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, self-beautification and entertainment even more, to help them forget how much everything else sucks.

          Also, in a truly civilised society, food and housing would be free for everyone precisely so that no-one need ever struggle for essentials.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...

            "This is where we differ. Giving someone money and then telling them what they can or cannot spend it on is the opposite of charity."

            The thing is they are not being given "money" per se. They are being given food, but the distribution of food is best handled by those already doing it. The money can be calculated to buy a certain quantity of food. A subsidy for housing is also not "money" being given to a person, it's a place to live. Some agencies pay landlords directly in the beneficiary's name. There are programs that don't have strings, but many are for very specific support where the money is tied to that thing being supplied.

    4. JavaJester

      Bless your precious little heart (Re: Whilst it has a lot of drawbacks...)

      It's adorable that you think that this would primarily be used to keep parents from misspending their money. I'm ready to pop some popcorn and see a Hallmark movie just thinking about the children.

      Seriously, this is a neon sign invitation for abuse. Scammers will inevitably come up with ways to use it to defraud people. Companies will use it to spy on us in ways they can only dream of now. Governments, especially oppressive ones, will fall over themselves finding new ways to use this to control their population. Nice paycheck you got there. It would be a shame if you violated its smart contract by failing to post your support for Dear Leader on our website. For the good of society and the people of course.

  17. Filippo Silver badge

    Economics 101?

    >But, Gaur explains, restricting the use of money causes it to lose some of its fungibility.

    Fungibility is literally the whole point of money. Money that "loses some of its fungibility" is like a car losing some of its engine power. While it doesn't become useless, it does become another car of lesser value than the original car.

    Similarly, 100$ with restrictions are simply... not 100$. They just are not. They are, for all intents and purposes, an entirely different currency, which is worth less than the USD. There will be an exchange rate, determined by market forces. It might not be official or regulated, but there will be, and it will be strictly less than 1 (possibly by a lot). Like, if I ask 100$ for a given service, and you offer me to pay in $-that-can-only-be-spent-in-the-USA, then I'll ask 105 of them. This is basic economics.

    >The other concern he sees is whether people will tolerate a potential lack of privacy on how they spend their money.

    Nah. I mean, initially, yes, but what most people really hate is new things, not lack of privacy. Once this is no longer new, they'll use it. Nearly everyone uses credit cards, and they are no more private than this.

  18. katrinab Silver badge
    WTF?

    “payments to register once conditions like payment on delivery are met" already exists, it is called a letter of credit, and they are widely used in international trade.

    The other use-case described sounds very much like the food stamp cards used in the USA to pay benefits to people.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      LOC- Letter of Credit

      Data point re Importance:

      Approx. two thirds of all global metals & minerals commodities' production and supply absolutely depends on, runs on, lives & dies on LOCs.

      A good friend of mine was able to establish and build out what is now post-takeover Glencore's global Nickel operation, just by (finally) convincing the bean counters to extend the expiry date on their standard LOC. 1yr->5yrs... global dominance.

      In case anyone's doubting the importance of purpose-bound payments' "minor" technicalities' impact on the greater scale of things...

  19. tatatata

    The problem is more or less a terminology problem. We, and central banks too, talk about CBDC as if it were money. With purpose-bound CBDC, it is not money, it is a voucher. Nobody expects to be able to buy food for a book voucher.

  20. JulieM Silver badge
    Alert

    Frightening

    Historically, we have come to take for granted certain rights and freedoms that were effectively afforded us by default, owing to limitations in the technology of the day. If you wanted to tell someone something and be sure no-one else knew, you would just go for a walk in the countryside, or along a deserted beach. Maybe, if you were being extra careful, you might even carry a stick and poke it at any undergrowth in case anyone was hiding there. If you arrived and left separately, by different routes, no-one need even know you had met. No-one ever really thought privacy was worth protecting with the force of the law, because it was the default state.

    Until technology caught up, and it wasn't anymore.

    Today, if you have some good reason to transfer money to another party without anyone else's knowledge or interference, you can still hand over a stack of banknotes. And although they do carry serial numbers, nobody is keeping a formal record with time and date stamps of the specific notes tendered in each individual transaction, and the parties thereto.

    That's damned well baked into digital currencies.

    And the potential for misuse of that information is impossible to overstate. It's basically enabling industrial-scale stalking. Historically, it was always far too much information to store; nowadays, it can all be stored and indexed for rapid searching. And you don't even need a human being looking out for patterns.

    Are there potential benefits? For sure. A list of the foods you've been buying recently might conceivably help a doctor investigating digestive issues. There might be a few people an accurate route map of your daily commute to work might conceivably help with their own purposes, too. There will always be more ways that information can be used against you than in your favour.

    History has shown over and over again that the only way to make sure someone won't abuse a power is not to give it to them in the first place.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Frightening

      "There might be a few people an accurate route map of your daily commute to work might conceivably help with their own purposes, too"

      I'm sure an argument along those lines will or has been made, but it makes no sense. The bulk data on travel is entirely sufficient for planning than to track traffic down to individual cars.

      It's a hugely invasive solution to an insignificant data point. It's the same thing as government wanting a remote kill switch on cars to be able to limit police chases. Sounds good since chases can lead to uninvolved public getting injured, but the downside is so big for the amount of good it might do that it's stupid.

      1. JulieM Silver badge

        Re: Frightening

        You seem to be misunderstanding my point about who might find details of your commute to work useful.

        I'm specifically talking about stalkers. Thieves, murderers, rapists. People who want to harm you. Hell, some of them probably don't even think what they're doing is harmful; but you're the one qualified to judge that. If someone is collecting that information under a veil of supposed legitimacy, it's unreasonable not to assume criminals will have access to it.

        And if someone is already unhinged enough not to be satisfied with merely jacking off over every selfie you post but actually to want to meet you face to face, the fact of there being a huge amount of data to search through might not be enough to deter them.

  21. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
    Stop

    Deceit is a Black Flag

    >His answer was that binding CBDCs to specific purposes is not the intention of such digital currencies.

    Bullshit.

    It's been front&centre on every. single. industry. CDBC. presentation I've seen.

    Usually with detailed examples of preventing undesirable purchases or restricting undesirables full-stop. "Guiding behaviour" is a euphemism some of them like. A lot.

    And --just in the presentations alone-- from the time spent on it and the emphasis and the language and the excitement and the bodylanguage fervour, it is clearly the actual primary goal.

    Another observation leading to precisely the same necessary implication: if they genuinely wanted a currency rather than microcontrol over people's choices/social sculpting, they'd have simply used a digicoin and the project would have been over on day 1. Digicoins satisfy every _financial_ objective of a currency. They did not, so they do not.

  22. xyz123 Silver badge

    "tide of enthusiam ebbs" how much was this writer paid to put this?

    There's a god-damn Blackstone ETF before January 10th 2024, and BTC is expected to go to between $100k and $150k immediately.

    ALL coins are up. SOL by itself is up 796% on the year.

    But yeah "it's all over". Basically the appears to be writer is one of those paid "journalists" like they have in the Sun newspaper etc, writing "disparage crypto" stories to try desperately to get people to sell, so their masters can buy at a slightly cheaper price.

    Shameful.

  23. shazapont
    Gimp

    Another great idea from…

    …from the people who brought you regular monetary system collapse, years of misery and excess inflation, worthless mortgages and homelessness.

    The only instruments here are the tools that tells us that this is good, when it’s clearly only good for them.

    As Nan might say, What a f*kin’ nightmare, and, Where are the f*kin’ regulators, and, Who gave these f*kers permission to f*k things up? Don’t worry, rhetorical.

    As Karen might say: https://youtu.be/gM8vOcxatsI

    — Shazzam Napalm DuPan —

  24. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

    With the nanny-state mentality of the Canadian federal government, the LAST thing I want is those yahoos having any say in how, when, or why I spend my hard earned money. It is MY money.

    1. khjohansen

      "My Money"

      You say it's "your money" ?? Well, does it have your name on it? I'm pretty sure your currency has the name of the rightful owner printed on it!

      1. Groo The Wanderer Silver badge

        Re: "My Money"

        That logic is likely to have you locked up right after you open your mouth in court after being arrested for squatting as is your "natural right." *LOL*

  25. Ideasource Bronze badge

    Mm rations

    Ration stamps outside of wartime.

    Sounds like a dystopian circus attraction

  26. Marty McFly Silver badge
    Mushroom

    If-This-Then-That money

    If Covid shot, then you can buy food.

    Rest assured, the shot is entirely voluntary. No one is required to take it.

    This is all about controlling people, pure and simple. When tyranny becomes law, then revolution becomes responsibility.

  27. JavaJester
    Stop

    Sounds like wonderful news if you are a scammer

    Scammers will have a field day with this. Some obvious possibilities are obtaining goods with payments with impossible to fulfill conditions that revert back to the sender when they expire the next day and payments with fees greater than the payment amount.

  28. stiine Silver badge

    Well that's one way to do it.

    WIll I have to fly to Reno, Nevada and then drive out of the city to get brothel-bucks, or will I be able to get brothel-bucks in Atlanta before I travel to Nevada? Where will I be able to use any that I don't spend in rural Nevada? Will this make prostitution legal across the US If not, why not?

    We need that Paris icon back.

  29. xyz Silver badge

    100% tax rate you offset against innit

    You work for your gov boss and it gives you credit for food etc... eSlavery.

  30. t245t Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Orwell would have been proud of the use of language

    “The number of constraints imposed on the instruments can be many or none.”

    Like freezing the bank accounts of "non-citizens" who contribute to activist organizations?

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Orwell would have been proud of the use of language

      Canada did precisely that during Covid.

      Nuked all bank accounts, investments, and access to cash for everyone on the Trucker Convoy AND everyone who donated, eg via their GoFundMe.

      (Thanks for that link. Never heard of it, but it sounds spot on. 1984 + 6)

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