FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks to the media before talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, February 10, 2020. REUTERS/File Photo
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With coins and bills being potential carriers of Covid-19, Gary Cohn says he has stopped using cash and supports the idea of the US Federal Reserve creating “digital dollar accounts and wallets for all citizens” (“Coronavirus is speeding up the disappearance of cash,” April 30).

Mr Cohn sees all kinds of advantages to such a move, in addition to those that are Covid-19-related. Tax-avoiding black market sales of cannabis could be effectively stopped.

Digital wallets would have made it easier for the government to send stimulus payments directly to individuals. While Mr Cohn admits there are privacy implications to the government having access to people’s digital wallets, he likes “how much quicker and efficient the tax process could be”.

Where Mr Cohn sees efficiency, I see Xi Jinping having yet another tool to control the Uighurs. In addition to police stations every few hundred yards, the police will know every time they buy something.

Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban would love the control, and access to information, that government-issued digital wallets would give them about what their opponents are doing.

For that matter, consider a President Bloomberg. Would he allow you to use your digital wallet to buy a 44-ounce Slurpee drink? And who would feel comfortable relying on a government digital wallet with a President Trump in office?

I understand the appeal of digital payments, but the availability of cash and the option to use it is important in preserving our freedom from totalitarian governments who like the idea of digital wallets as a way to control their people, not because of “how much quicker and efficient the tax process could be”.

Patrick J Allen
River Forest, IL, US

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