M Update, 7/2/2019 – Efforts to introduce a cashless society here won’t eliminate crimes, such as money laundering, embezzlement and corruption.
Criminals will continue to find ways to carry out their activities, regardless of the method of transaction.
There is also the fear that society will be exposed to new kinds of criminal activities involving online financial transactions if we rush into this plan to turn our society into a cashless one.
A cashless society describes an economic state where financial transactions are not conducted using conventional money — physical banknotes or coins — but rather with the transfer of digital information, usually an electronic representation of money between the transacting parties.
Cashless societies have existed from the time human societies came into existence, like barter, and cashless transactions have also become possible in modern times via digital currencies such as cryptocurrency.
With the advent of technology such as the smartphone, our daily activities have changed tremendously.
We rely on our smartphones to perform our jobs, including conducting financial transactions.
Although this new technology and the efforts to make our society a cashless one may be seen positively by many, it will pose another risk to the people.
There are many criminal activities which involve cybercrimes today.
Cybercrimes associated with online financial transactions include bank fraud, carding, identity theft, extortion, and theft of classified information.
Various Internet scams, many based on phishing and social engineering, target consumers and businesses the world over, including Malaysia.
Cybercrimes cost companies and individuals all over the world billions of dollars annually.
The evolution of technology and increasing accessibility of smart tech means there are multiple access points within users’ homes for hackers to exploit.
While law enforcement attempts to tackle the growing issue, the number of criminals continues to grow, taking advantage of the anonymity of the Internet.
From January to Oct 3 last year, 8,313 cybercrime cases were reported to the police, with the victims fleeced of almost RM300 million.
Throughout 2017, 10,203 such cases were reported, involving losses of about RM184.2 million.
Most of the scams are categorised as telecommunication fraud (including the Macau scam), e-financial fraud, 419 scam (also known as love scam or African scam) and e-commerce fraud.
We should not rush to turn our society into a cashless society. The matter must be planned properly and executed in stages.
The first step is to educate our society over the potential risks in using online transactions.
People need to be informed about safety and security aspects of any online transaction.
Secondly, the government must ensure existing laws in the country are effective enough to deal with all the problems pertaining to cybercrimes.
Thirdly, our enforcement officers must be ready when our society becomes fully cashless as problems must be tackled effectively.
DR MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Syariah & Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia