Swiss demand vote on preventing change to cashless society

GENEVA, Switzerland: After collecting enough signatures to trigger a vote, pressure group Free Switzerland Movement said that Swiss citizens will now have the chance to decide whether their economy will ever become cashless.

Free Switzerland Movement said it had collected over 111,000 signatures, above the 100,000 needed to authorize a popular vote.

Free Switzerland Movement officials said that as electronic payments become the default for transactions in increasingly digitized societies, cash is playing a declining role in many economies and states are finding it easier to monitor citizens’ actions.

The group is demanding a clause to be added to Switzerland’s currency law stipulating that a "sufficient quantity" of banknotes or coins must always remain in circulation.

On the group’s website, Free Switzerland Movement president Richard Koller said, "It is clear that getting rid of cash not only touches on issues of transparency, simplicity or security, but also carries a huge danger of totalitarian surveillance."

"Switzerland is a European standard-bearer for the defense of cash, as pushing through such guarantees in the European Union would entail the almost impossible process of securing approval from all 27 member states," he added.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, an Ipsos study in 2017 found 20 percent of Europeans and Americans do not carry cash, and more than one-third are happy to go cashless.