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The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers--and the Coming Cashless Society Hardcover – February 14, 2012
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Kirkus Reviews, 1/15/12
“Alternating between in-depth reporting and personal rumination, Wired contributing editor Wolman tries to figure out what a cashless society would mean and whether it is an idea whose time has come…He has plenty of thoughts about what could replace physical money, but he is wise enough to understand that he cannot imagine all of the unexpected outcomes. An intriguing book on a topic that many readers have always taken for granted: the cash in their purses and wallets.”
“An entertaining and engaging canter through the world of money, both real and electronic.”
“A fascinating exploration of how we are evolving into a society that relies entirely on plastic and mouse-clicks to buy, sell and save what we need.”
“A rallying cry for the anti-cash movement.”
“[A] world-spanning tour…A book that has many intriguing elements…[Wolman] makes many good points about the absurdities of cash…Raise[s] some intriguing questions and present[s] the views and personalities of some very interesting people.”
“[An] engaging new book.”
“[A] fascinating new book.”
“A fascinating must read book.”
The London Guardian (UK), 3/2/12
“Informally tech-hipsterish prose…One of the most illuminating stories here is the increasing use of mobile-phone payment systems in India and elsewhere.”
“Fascinating and erudite.”
“Wolman's vision of a future without cash has a serious side, but has gonzo brilliance as well…[The End of Money] takes us on a whistle-stop tour of intriguing monetary phenomena that it would be difficult to learn about elsewhere…Wolman's conversational prose style comes into its own; and many of his interlocutors are, if you'll forgive the pun, priceless…[Wolman’s] book is a lively introduction to this important topic.”
“Full of critical thinking about cash and economies.”
“From a history of the invention and rise of physical money to the evolution of paperless alternatives and cross-cultural influences on cash today, this pairs history with insights from a range of individuals who see the option of a 'cashless society' as either a big pro or a big con. Any collection strong in economics and money issues will find this an intriguing survey of what will happen to counterfeiters and others in the coming cashless society.”
“Several policy questions can be asked after reading this brilliant book…Invaluable end-of-chapter notes and bibliography make this study a good starting point for those seeking further research and writings on money.”
Amazon.com Top 100 Picks for 2012
Washington Post, Top 5 Business Titles, 1/31/13
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Top Customer Reviews
The author decided to live without spending cash for a year, but he does not develop that portion of the saga at length. Mostly he focuses on visionaries who are hoping, for a variety of reasons, to eliminate paper money and coins. Some of the advocates believe a cashless society would function more smoothly and reduce deficit spending. Others are more politically oriented, wanting to remove governments from printing/coining what has come to be called "money." In Iceland, Wolman looks at whether or not the citizenry will actually put an end to the national currency. In England, he mingles with deep-thinking reformers who discuss how to achieve a digital cash economy. In economies mired in poverty, including much of rural India, Wolman notes how cash transactions make little sense. In many economic circumstances, writes the author, writing checks against a bank account is both illogical in theory and costly in terms of savings lost. As the narrative progresses, Wolman riffs on dirty money (literally, since bills and coins transmit germs), the successes and failures of counterfeiters, the techies who have turned their smart phones into banks and many other twists spawned by thinking about money as a physical object. The author mostly keeps his biases masked, but he leans toward the belief that physical money is in its twilight. He has plenty of thoughts about what could replace physical money, but he is wise enough to understand that he cannot imagine all of the unexpected outcomes.
An intriguing book on a topic that many readers have always taken for granted: the cash in their purses and wallets.
What you're left with is some insightful and entertaining material... what you'd find in an average episode of 60 Minutes. But it seems like the author ran away from the big questions, such as faith in the U.S. dollar as reserve currency... and how exactly digital money will overcome cash in developed markets like the U.S. and Europe.
Long story short, I think this book is a little short on depth. It raises more questions than it answers. And if that was the author's intent, then well done. But I was expecting more conclusive evidence and deeply held conviction than was on display in The End of Money.
The title and powerful endorsements from Larry Summers, Chris Anderson, etc. were the strongest part of the book.
The End of Money is a good introduction to the subject of a cashless society. As to whether it should be considered the definitive book on the death of cash? I don't think so. But I'm not sure it was intended to be... which is why I've awarded it 3 stars.
The author is very engaging - no dry stories or antiquated examples in here! Readers will be delighted to encounter a fun yet informative set of facts that provide ample opportunity to gain greater understanding of the history, trends, promises and pitfalls surrounding what is likely to be one of the most dramatic changes to society in eras.
Those wishing for more resources and references will be pleased to encounter the inclusion of documented citations and references. However, there are also liberal examples, opinions and interveiw segments included which add insight into how people around the nation/world think about the topic. Agree or disagree...it doesn't really matter...it makes for great reading!
Now, keep in mind, this book is NOT a technical mannifesto nor does it attempt to provide guidance/insight into anticipated changes. Emphasis is on people and perception rather than the "nuts and bolts" of going cashless.
Very enjoyable read! Terrific for those interest in politics, economics and of course, history as well as future trends. Would make an excellent supplement to course readings or other topical areas of study.
I don't have any doubt that the cashless society, as Wolman predicts, is coming. We've been anticipating it for a long time. In a science fiction novel I wrote decades ago the society used digital "points" that were kept track of by the totalitarian government. You got points for being productive or doing what society wanted and you lost points for being unproductive or doing what society didn't like. You got an allotment at various times in your life and if you went broke you were forcibly made productive or else...
Perhaps the best feature of a cashless society: less crime. Another nice feature: no sharing of germs on bills. Digital cash harbors no bacteria (but watch out for viruses). But Wolman's main argument to hasten us toward the end of money is that cash is expensive. It costs money to make cash (and guess who pays?). And you can lose cash or get it taken from you. And then there is all that we pay to fight counterfeiting. Wolman has a nice chapter on who makes the funny money and how sometimes it is better than the "real" thing and increasingly impossible to detect unless you are an expert. One more aside: in the 70s I wrote a short story about a guy who passed one-dollar bills, called "Garbage Sam and the Bill Passer" (included in my short story collection available at Amazon). The bills were made by the "Red Chinese" but Wolman shows us that in the real world of today the main culprits are the North Koreans who are counterfeiting the Yankee dollar so perfectly that they have cost the US billions of dollars--well, that would be the Yankee hundred dollar bill.
Surprisingly the most important expense associated with using cash is the inconvenience. This is especially true for the lower rungs of society.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It's actually about the end of physical cash, not actually money. But it's still pretty cool, and it gives a good idea of where this was headed about 2010 or 2012 or such. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sailor Barsoom
This outstanding book will change (no pun intended) your view of cash. A fascinating look at physical money and its role in a soon-to-be cashless society. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Howard G.
David Wolman's book is definitely not worth reading. The first problem is painfully basic: he is not arguing for the end of money at all, just the end of paper money (that... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Brett H Matthews
This book will give you a painless history of money while suggesting alternate forms and methods of exchange. Definitely food for thought.Published 11 months ago by margaretx77
Let me begin by an amazing coincidence. Just as I finished the book today (Oct 25, 14), I read this news item in a leading Indian newspaper “Sweden goes cashless: A news report... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Harish Nair
Some interesting thoughts and many entertaining stories. My only dig is that the author has an agenda that he rarely admits to overtly.Published 20 months ago by Pete
Interesting reading, well researched with lots of examples of how money has changed over the years. Changing has speed up with technology but I don't see the end of cash in my... Read morePublished 20 months ago by DAN CHASE
This should be a must read for anyone who wants to understand basic economics and how they affect where our worlds money system is going. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Edward Doran