stephen hawking
Image: © NASA HQ PHOTO via Flickr

Stephen Hawking could be on the next £50 note, if it exists…

The UK is one of the world’s most cashless societies. Not everyone thinks that’s a good thing.

What it means: When you really think about it, money is kinda weird. We think of it as something valuable, but pull out a fiver or tenner from your purse and you’re really just holding a colourful bit of paper. Still, people care what that bit of paper looks like, which is why there’s been chatter over the new £50 note the government is issuing… and specifically which celebrity should be the face of it. (Stephen Hawking’s nearest competitors in a UniLad poll are Princess Di and David Bowie). But some people think we shouldn’t bother creating new money notes at all. They want the UK to be a cashless economy. Which, tbf, it already mostly is: digital money (credit cards, online bank transfers etc) make up 96 percent of money transfers in the UK.

Digital money has lots of advantages: you don’t need big suitcases to cart loads of it around, it can be transferred to a business or other person instantly, and if you leave your purse on the train you can just cancel your card and not lose any money. Plus, the plastic notes the UK government is rolling out upset some people, mostly because they are made animal fat which is taboo to vegans and certain religions (although criminals may also be pissed because they’re more difficult to forge).

But a cashless economy could cause more inequality, because poorer people and smaller businesses can struggle to access the bank accounts and loans that digital money is stored in. And online money is vulnerable to online crime - hackers have already made off with £500 million of people’s digital money this year.


Read our explainer on digital money.

Recent articles

Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?