Researchers create RFID-enabled paper, bringing us ever closer to traceable cash

Extreme Tech | May 2, 2013

By James Plafke

Physical cash has both benefits and drawbacks. One of the major benefits is that you can use it at establishments that don’t accept credit or debit, which are surprisingly frequent if you live in a big city. Some major drawbacks are that it’s more difficult to trace and much easier to steal than electronic funds. Those two drawbacks are on the verge of being remedied, though, as a team of American scientists has created paper equipped with RFID tags, making any paper money easily traceable.

First, imagine what would be more difficult to mug: all of the paper money in your wallet, or you debit card. If a mugger is trying to get in and get out as quickly as possible, walking you all the way to an ATM (which might have a camera watching) while you input your PIN makes the robbery much riskier. If you have a stack of cash, though, a mugger can complete the transaction rather quickly. If you are partial to cash, paper tender equipped with RFID tags would make it much easier to track that mugger as he runs off with your Benjamins.

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