Sweden moving towards cashless economy
Sweden was the first European country to introduce bank notes in 1661. Now it’s come farther than most on the path toward getting rid of them. “Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia leads the world in terms of cashless trading,” said Bengt Nilervall at the Swedish Federation of Trade.
Swedes use their debit and credit cards almost every day, an average of 260 transactions per person per year. The picture is very different in southern Europe. In Italy, for example, three-quarters of all consumer purchases are still paid for in cash.
“That is due to the low confidence in the authorities and the banking system,” said Niklas Arvidsson, an associate professor of industrial dynamics. Arvidsson argues that Sweden could become completely cash free but predicts that this development is unlikely until at least 2030.
Retailers, banks and card companies welcomed the trend with the proviso that customers are able to keep up with developments. The most obvious advantage is the enhanced security for both bank staff and customers. Sweden spends around $1.2 billion each year in securing cash. This amounts to 0.3% of the kingdom’s GDP. In 2012, only five bank robberies were committed in Sweden – a thirty year low.
Going cashless has also spawned a multitude of other services that enable people transfer small sums of money without having to resort to the ATM. It is also possible to shop for groceries in Sweden using different forms of electronic payment. ■