61 A.B.A. J. 47 (1975)
Abolish Paper Money and Eliminate Most Crime; Speiser, Stuart M.

handle is hein.journals/abaj61 and id is 49 raw text is: Abolish Paper Money and Eliminate Most Crime
by Stuart M. Speiser

Crime does pay-but only in cash! By abolishing
paper money most of the crime and corruption in
the United States can be eliminated. A payment
card system is no longer a mere science fiction
concept, for the technology to create a system that
can root out the profit motive in crime exists today.
p APER CURRENCY is the lifeblood of crime and
corruption in the United States. Without paper
money, it would be virtually impossible for criminals
and corrupt officials to profit from illegal activities. If
all substantial transfers of money were recorded in bank
transactions, nobody could conduct profitable illegal
activities without creating highly visible permanent evi-
dence of the illegal activities or of income tax evasion
or both. With the chances for profit from illegal activi-
ties so slim, it is difficult to visualize large numbers of
persons running the risks of imprisonment. Crime would
be reduced dramatically to, the point where today's
police forces could effectively control it.
Fortunately, technology has advanced to the point
that today there is a substitute for paper money: a pay-
ment card system keyed to bank accounts.
Each person wishing to spend money other than
coins, which would remain in circulation, would be
required to have a bank account. The bank or the
federal government would issue to each depositor a
United States payment card similar to plastic credit
cards. In addition to the necessary codings, each card
could contain the photograph and fingerprint of the
depositor if this were considered desirable.
Every business establishment, including taxicabs,
would be equipped with a terminal in which the pay-
ment card could be inserted. This terminal would take
the place of and probably be cheaper than the cash
register. A customer purchasing a pair of shoes at a
retail store would present the card to the salesman or
cashier, who would ring up the amount on the ter-
minal. The terminal would make a visual display of the
charge so that the customer could see the exact amount
being deducted from his bank account. The customer

would then insert the card into the terminal and the
computer system would record the entire transaction,
giving a record of the name of the sales establishment,
and immediately transferring the amount from the cus-
tomer's bank account to the bank account of the retail
store. In the event that the customer did not have the
amount in his account, the terminal would so indicate.
There are many sophisticated modifications of this
system that could be developed, but the above gives the
basic outline of how most transactions could be han-
dled. Of course, there would be a continuing need for
the use of checks in larger transactions. The checking
system would be continued, since checks are rarely used
in criminal transactions.
It probably would be desirable to have payment
cards tied in with the telephone system. This would
enable each depositor to determine his bank balance
at any time by simply inserting his card in the telephone
and dialing the proper number. The telephone system
also should be equipped to make payments and trans-
fers, so that two, individuals dealing with each other
in a transaction that might otherwise require paper
currency could simply go to the nearest telephone and
transfer money from one account to another.
Newspapers, snacks, local transportation, and other
inexpensive items can be purchased by coins, which
would remain in circulation in small denominations, or
tokens. However, it would be desirable for taxicabs to
be equipped with mobile terminals for payment cards,
since they are the target of many robberies.
Advantages Outweigh Inconveniences
No, doubt this system would cause a few minor in-
conveniences to people who are accustomed to using
paper money. If we scan all our uses of paper money
today, however, it is obvious that the major legitimate
use is for retail sales transactions. Even in retail sales,
a very large dollar volume is handled by charge ac-
counts, checks, and credit cards. Certainly this is true of
the purchase of automobiles, major appliances, transpor-
tation. and other high price-tag items. Probably the ma-
jnr legitimate use of paper money is for the purchase of
food. Fortunately, the supermarkets which do most of
the nation's retail food business are ideally equipped
for handling a payment card system, and they would
welcome the chance to eliminate the accumulations of
cash that make them a prime robbery target.
We have taken for granted the use of paper money.

January, 1975 e Volume 61 47

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