The idea that a cashless society could be a tremendous boon to the powers of control is not new (for example see "The Light of Creation"). Any more than the fact that financial transactions as purely the interplay of numbers stored in various servers is. And we all know now just how much of what we do digitally is kept, and poured over endlessly, to the advantage of equally various interested parties (the whole point of "Big Data" mining).
When I read an article like the one linked to here from the Atlantic on the dystopian possibilities of what could come from a government, as well as the holders of "Big Money," knowing about everything you purchase, the one thing that surprises me the most, beyond their seeming to shout this out as something new, is the lack of appreciation for what is the essential point here: Further emphasis that money is indeed just information; just ones and zeros in servers that can translate to anywhere in the world; into whatever the imagination can conceive.
And now this is even more so because, in addition to automated machine tools of various sorts, and automated assembly systems of various sorts, not to mention automated resource extraction, we now have physical 3D printers; limited for the moment on the laying down of singular material types, but how long will that last. How long will it be before even the most complicated of multi material items can be xeroxed out the minute a design gets manifested into a server's memory banks. And with the strides being made in applying layers of objectification to even the rigors of designing itself, how long will it be before "Object Oriented," visual design, integrated development tools will be common place even for the creation of anything?... Custom circuit boards; custom molecular compounds; custom machinery; custom anything.
What stuns me the most is that no one seems to get the real bottom line here: That this begs the much more fundamental question of what we are for in the process of not only material attainment, but the coordination of who makes what when and how we keep it functioning with a minimum of strife, and a maximum of coordinated efficiency. In that view it is not the labor of making that justifies our share of what could be made, but our participation in managing a socially acceptable means to keep it all going.
This is yet another reason why our current economic model is so abysmally unprepared to take us where the very technologies it helped to create demand we must go. The fact of the matter is that model has innovated itself out of being relevant any more, and we have become either too numbed and burned out, or too selfishly comfortable, to either realize this, or to care.
When money becomes information, it can inform on you.