There was a question yesterday that asked about the cashless economy depicted in Star Trek. I gave the answer explaining how the society we see in the series is depicted as having adapted beyond the need to accumulate material wealth, due in large part to the post-scarcity of essential resources.

Then I realized that there is an implicit assumption in my answer - that human society being post-scarcity for those resources means *all * Federation members are post-scarcity as well. This is an assumption that, while reasonable, I could not find any evidence to back up.

Are all Federation members part of the same cashless post-scarcity society that we see humans are? Or is this a case-by-case basis depending on how each society chooses to conduct itself? Do any Federation members still use money?*

On an individual level, it's clear that people in the Federation do have to deal with money - Rom is a Starfleet Cadet, but he's still a Ferengi. And Kassidy Yates is a Freighter Captain who has to deal with non-Federation stations - But for a Member Planet, is abandoning a Cashless economy implicit/required when joining the Federation?

*Remember: The Ferengi are not members of the Federation.

  • if im not mistaken the federation does not run each planets government, and that each planet must only meet minimum requirements to enter the federation, so if getting rid of your currency is not a minimum requirement many federation planets would still have this. some federation planets are also far worse off and are not necessarily post-scarcity, planets like bajor for example.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 16:39
  • en.memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/United_Federation_of_Planets while it talks about the economy of the federation, it never in the show mentions that individual planets need to have a "cashless economy" to enter. so its possible that some planets could still have a more traditional economy.
    – Himarm
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 16:46
  • 2
    @Himarm Bajor was never part of the Federation in DS9 - in fact, it's a major plot point that they never join the Federation officially from what I recall.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 16:57
  • @Himarm Whether or not member planets have to abandon their cash-based economy is the very question I'm asking. I've edited my post to make that more clear.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 17:00

2 Answers 2


Based on mentions from both books AND dialogue within the episodes themselves, the cashless economy concept applies to Earth & humans only.

In the novelization for Star Trek V, there is mention of the Andorians having an economy that depended on "workers". This largely indicates a production/consumption system.

In the DS9 episode "In the Cards", when Jake wants to acquire a baseball card:

JAKE: I'm Human, I don't have any money.

NOG: It's not my fault that your species decided to abandon currency-based economics in favor of some philosophy of self-enhancement.

JAKE: Hey, watch it. There's nothing wrong with our philosophy. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.

NOG: What does that mean?

JAKE: It means we don't need money!

Then, later in the Voyager episode "Dark Frontier" there is this comment by Tom Paris:

When the New World Economy took shape in the late 22nd century and money went the way of the dinosaur, Fort Knox was turned into a museum.

Further evidence that other Federation races still use a money-based system:

  • At the end of DS9 episode "Little Green Men", it is mentioned that Quark sold his shuttle while still in the Sol system, barely making enough latinum to pay for the trip back to DS9.
  • In several DS9 episodes, it is referenced that the Bolians have a market-based economy almost on par with the Ferengi. In fact, the Bank of Bolias is commonly used by off-worlders in a manner similar to Swiss banks.
  • Tellarite freighters were a common sight on DS9, and the Tellarites themselves are considered to be shrewd businessmen & negotiators.
  • In Voyager episode "The Gift", Captain Janeway tells Kes a story about the time Tuvok bought a meditation lamp from a Vulcan master (six years prior to the episode). The Vulcan master charged Tuvok twice as much when he learned he was a Starfleet officer.

Taken altogether, these sort of mentions make it appear that it is primarily Earth utilizing this unique system. The last example, in particular, shows one Vulcan charging another twice as much for an item. This would seem to indicate that Vulcan still uses a currency-based market system. Along with the Andorians, Tellarites, and Bolians, this would appear to make Earth's cashless economy unique among the founding races of the Federation.

  • Isn't your second example a case of cultural differences between Federation humans and Ferrengi, rather than humans necessarily? I'm also scrupulous towards the novelization, since it's TOS-based, and I don't think Gene's full realization of a cashless future was acknowledged until TNG.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 20:25
  • @Zibbobz - difficult to answer, even with the context it could be either way. However, Jake specifically says "I'm HUMAN" and then Nog says "your species". I'll see if I can find an example with two Federation species in the TNG era.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 20:42
  • This I think is the nearest to answering my question - in that it offers an explanation for Picard's insistence that 'mankind has evolved beyond the need for material wealth', but later (and earlier) references to money and currency of various types.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 13:21
  • Ferengi are not part of the Federation. Tuvok's master may have made that transaction before the federation existed, so it's not indicative. Nog and Jake are hardly authorities on anything, and there's way better examples using dialogue between Kirk and/or Picard.
    – JMFB
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 17:29
  • 1
    @JMFB - the OP wants TNG-era examples that reflect other Federation species BESIDES humans. And the exchange between Tuvok & the Vulcan master happened on Vulcan with Janeway present, six years before.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 18:27

I'm not sure exactly what cashless is, but I do have an answer. Just because something isn't printed or in coin form doesn't mean there isn't a medium for exchanging goods and services. In STU you don't have to trade a chicken for a head of lettuce.

Currency is still alive and well, sort of. Clearly Roddenberry wanted it gone. So let's start with there's no currency.

Ronald D. Moore commented: "By the time I joined TNG, Gene had decreed that money most emphatically did NOT exist in the Federation, nor did 'credits' and that was that. Personally, I've always felt this was a bunch of hooey, but it was one of the rules and that's that." (AOL chat, 1997)

As Moore commented, it's a bunch of hooey. How do people get the things they need? How is it decided who gets the biggest house, apartment, etc. Who gets the oceanside view? Can a person just travel around for free, stay where they want, eat what they want, never work, etc? It makes no sense.

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, screenwriters of Star Trek, said in a question-and-answer session with fans that "there's money, or some kind of credit system" in the alternate reality. [http://trekmovie.com/2009/05/22/orci-and-kurtzman-reveal-star-trek-details-in-trekmovie-fan-qa/][1]

So you see more screenwriters above stating that there's something but don't want to contradict Roddenberry's ideal dream.

Below are examples to in various shows to show that there's some form of currency.

Kirk said to Picard: "This is my house, I sold it years ago." inside the Nexus, referring directly to the sale of his former home. (Star Trek Generations)

If Kirk sold his house there must have been some form of currency, credit, or something.

When preparing to fight the Klingons on Organia, Kirk said "Well, the Federation has spent a lot of money on our training..." (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")

Above could be just a manner of speech, but it also could be referring to resources, credits, something like money.

Cyrano Jones told Lieutenant Nyota Uhura that "a tribble is the only love that money can buy." (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles")

As I recall he sold Tribbles to Federation officers so they must have had some form of currency to pay him.

If your only question is whether a member planet has to give up currency, clearly that is not the case, read below. (But I think your question is more than that)

The Bank of Bolias was a major financial institution. Bolarus IX is a Federation member planet, that apparently has a market economy. (DS9: "Starship Down", "Who Mourns for Morn?")

Above is an actual Federation member that clearly has a financial institution and some sort of market economy.

DS9 "Explorers":

SISKO: I remember, Jake, I wasn't much older than you when I left for San Francisco to go to Starfleet Academy. For the first few days, I was so homesick that I'd go back to my house in New Orleans every night for dinner. I'd materialise in my living room at six thirty every night and take my seat at the table just like I had come down the stairs.

JAKE: You must have used up a month's worth of transporter credits.

I just watched this episode. It was clear from the episode that Sisko was speaking of actual credits of some sort.

In 2373, Quark indirectly caused damage to a cargo bay. Quark was informed that he would have to bear the cost burden for the repairs. (DS9: "Business as Usual")

So there's a cost involved. They also charged rent on the station, although I'm not sure if that went to the Federation or Bajor.

On numerous occasions, Starfleet officers have gambled to win latinum at Quark's Bar, including Julian Bashir, William Riker, Jadzia Dax.

DS9 "The Darkness and The Light":

DAX: I didn't lose that much.

WORF: Two bars of latinum. I hope you have it.

DAX: I have it. Most of it. Worf?


DAX: Fine. I'll borrow it from Quark. He likes me.

WORF: Major Kira's friend is ready for transport. Quark may lend you the money, but remember Rule of Acquisition number one hundred and eleven. Treat people in your debt like family, exploit them.

DAX: You know the Rules of Acquisition?

WORF: I am a graduate of Starfleet Academy. I know many things.

So we see from the above dialogue several things. One the art of betting is alive and well in the Federation. Two is that Starfleet officers understand the concept of money. The third thing is that both Dax and Worf keep currency around and have a way of acquiring it. Fourth and final is that it can be inferred from Worfs last comment that Starfleet Academy actually teaches the Rules of Acquisition or at least some class is offered that explains that concept.

On Voyager they start using Replicator Rations as a form of currency.

And of course the Picard family vineyards and wine making business. Does his brother give away the wine for free? How does he get the land and the equipment to have vineyards and make wine?

So the answer I believe is that Roddenberry didn't want currency, credit, or any of that stuff around, he had this ideal universe he wanted. But...his writers believed that was impossible to do. They couldn't go against him directly. There's clearly examples and allusions to various forms of currency and credits in the Star Trek Universe. So that's your answer I believe.

  • "Does his brother give away the wine for free?" Do you ever see anyone paying for their meals at Joe Sisko's place? The Bank of Bolias is a big one for me though - it seems like the dream of a cashless economy left with Gene Roddenberry. Pretty much every contestable, non-TOS, non-Movie reference to money comes from DS9 or Voyager.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 13:19
  • @Zibbobz I did a bunch of research on it, gave a bunch of canon examples, and in bold face exactly answered based on your edit of the question. I even included interviews from the writers. Yet you gave somebody else the correct answer that didn't really answer you question and was incorrect several times. Everyone knows Roddenberry wanted and it was claimed all over the place that Earth and the Federation didn't use money. Your question was if others have to give this up, I answered that and then some. The example of Jake and Nog 2 boys is what guided you? cont'd
    – JMFB
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 17:15
  • It was the specific Vulcan-to-Vulcan example actually, and the explanation of how this can exist next to canon claims that Earthlings no longer seek material wealth. Your answer IS good, but the other one answers more of the question in-universe.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 17:18
  • Please do not disparage other people's answers.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 18:38

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