The world is going cashless. Money is no longer physical, but ethereal. Instead of exchanging paper, we exchange payments. This seems to many like a great leap in efficiency, and they’re right, but the way first world nations are going about this transition should give us pause.

Our money is centralized, and it always has been, but never before has it been so easy for financial institutions and governments to build a seamless map of our transactions. Banks routinely share information about where and when we shop to 3rd parties for marketing purposes, and it takes a naive optimist to believe that the state will always use our information to our benefit.

Cryptocurrency is often held up as a panacea for state surveillance and corporate data-collection about our financial lives, but the nations with the most advanced technology sectors and state intelligence services are perhaps the nations with the most public apathy about decentralized banking alternatives. Everything works fine, apparently, but at the cost of our privacy.