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Monopoly Goes Cashless Thanks to Barcodes

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Digital cashby Kevin Samson, Activist Post

When events that were formally considered conspiracy theories become the foundation of popular culture, you know an entirely new reality is being created. The 5th bestselling board game in the world is now embracing the onset of the cashless society.

The war on cash in the real world is taking place on many fronts – from penalizing the holding of it through negative interest rates; eradicating large-denomination banknotes; surveillance of it through Suspicious Activity Reports; or outright banning larger transactions.

Perhaps recognizing that today’s children might very soon not understand how to even use cash – or maybe to help to speed up their education and acceptance – the Monopoly board game is certainly living up to its name by promoting a future of centralized bank surveillance and management. Fittingly, the new version calls itself “Ultimate Banking.”

Monopoly has always been a game of dominance through property acquisition, involuntary rent, and bankrupting the opposition to ultimately control every aspect of an economy.  Its 100-year-plus popularity in more than 100 countries and nearly 40 languages speaks to its global role in either social commentary or social engineering.

Monopoly presented its first digital versions in the post-2005 era beginning with cash replaced by Visa-branded debit cards. Further modernization of gameplay replaced their iconic tokens with choices like a Segway, flat-screen TV or a space shuttle, instead of a ship, car, or wheelbarrow. This eventually morphed into a full electronic banking unit that digitized the scorekeeping, thus eliminating the “black-market element” of hidden cash and other means of presumably fudging the numbers.

Today’s version goes one step further, again in tandem with society at large taking its next steps toward a full cashless reality where surveillance is openly admitted to.  Instead of the slower manual entering of transactions into the central keypad, all properties come with a scanable barcode that, when purchased, will be automatically deducted from a player’s funds.  The same applies to rent payments – everything is done by barcode and automatic deduction. In this way, not only are transactions accounted for, but the players themselves are integrated into the central banking database.

According to PYMNTS.com, the transfer of traditional tabletop gaming has been trending toward the high-tech for some time, trying to keep pace with its video game counterparts. These platforms are being embraced by the public in record numbers:

  • According to an article from ICv2, a firm that reports on the Business of Geek Culture, the hobby board game industry climbed to $880 million dollars in 2014, which marked a 20 percent increase in year-over-year sales.
  • As an article by CNBC recently reported, board game projects are attracting tens of thousands of fans on online crowdfunding sites, some amassing millions of dollars in only a few weeks’ time. The strategy game Scythe, for example, began its Kickstarter campaign in mid-October with a pledge goal of $33,000 and ended with $1.8 million.
  • According to CNBC, BoardGameGeek.com, an online hub for board game hobbyists, was founded in Jan. 2000 with less than 5,000 users. By Nov. 2015, the site had grown to 1.15 million users, with roughly 55 million page views per month.

For now – just like in the real world – the cashless version of Monopoly is optional, but the trend certainly would indicate that at some point its traditional version will become a mere relic. And there is still much that can be done to advance its gameplay further in order to maintain parity with what is being introduced in modern real-world payment systems … I fully expect that it will be sooner rather than later when Monopoly will grace us with its “Biometric Banking” version. Wouldn’t it just be so much more convenient if facial recognition sped things up a bit more? Google is already working on a new digital wallet to do just that. After all, how much longer will it be that kids even know what a credit card is?

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© 2016 Activist Post, Creative Commons, re-posted with permission

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