September 2023

Executive summary

The march towards cashless economies remains inevitable, with numerous advantages to be gained, including greater convenience and a reduction in crime. But resilience shouldn't take a backseat to efficiency.

In this second part of the series, opens up three potential risk scenarios as we consider the threats and opportunities associated with the shift towards digital financial systems.

  • Risks for vulnerable and marginalised groups
  • Increased powers for the state
  • Cyber risks and power outages.

The scenarios presented are relevant to business owners, risk managers, and policymakers considering the potential risks associated with purely digital financial systems in order to test business continuity plans and implement mechanisms to reduce the likelihood and impact of systemic threats.


  • Within societies, some groups will likely experience sizeable transition pain as they don't have either the technological or financial means to participate in the new, cashless world.
  • The abolition of cash is strengthening the position of the government in several ways. At one extreme, undesired consumption patterns could be punished.
  • Natural disasters, malicious cyber attacks and simple software failures could bring down electronic payment infrastructure, causing significant disruption in cashless societies.
  • Credit reference agencies could punish citizens with a bad score for higher-risk consumption patterns, such as purchasing alcohol, cigarettes or unhealthy foods. Such a scoring model would make access to credit more expensive for parts of society and is a questionable development in data privacy rights.

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CONDITIONS AND LIMITATIONS Gallagher's global operations, including a network of correspondent brokers and consultants, offers client-service capabilities in more than 130 countries around the world. This report and supporting information is not intended to provide legal or financial advice and reflects our understanding as of September 2023. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in the regions covered. You should not act upon information in this publication nor determine not to act, without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist insurance and risk management expertise. Should you require advice about your specific insurance arrangements or claim circumstances, please contact your Gallagher account representative.

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