Brother, Can You Spare An Electronic Payment?

Michael Cappelli's picture

Tech savvy Sweden’s high utilization of electronic payment technology has the country on pace to become the first cashless society. While widespread credit and debit card usage is fueling the trend, the rise of mobile pay apps is also a key factor. According to a recent article in The New York Times, bills and coins make up approximately 2 percent of Sweden’s economy. While Sweden’s central bank, the Riksbank, expects cash to be in circulation for at least another 20 years, many are adapting to the possibility of a cashless future.

Sweden’s business establishment is optimistic about a cashless future. In such a future, banks no longer need to maintain cash machines while still collect guaranteed fees with every transaction. Businesses also view the reduction is physical currency as a crime deterrent. Although the Swedish government is not actively promoting a cash free economy, it has not acted against the trend as electronic payments are easier to track and dissuade corruption.

Not all Swedes however, are so thrilled by the prospect of a cashless society. Swedish law enforcement warns of the ease in which cybercriminals can take advantage of electronic transactions. Cybercrimes are also more difficult to counter given the covert nature of the crime. Concerns over personal finance issues are also present given the ease for individuals to overspend. Sweden traditionally welcomes a significant number of immigrants and refugees into the country annually. For some, the shift to a cashless society will be difficult, especially those fleeing war zones with little or no financial assets. Elderly citizens are also historically heavy cash users, and the transition may harm them if purchasing daily necessities becomes difficult. Finally, there are those that simply dislike market forces ignoring the personal freedom and privacy of an individual to use cash as they see fit.

Despite those misgivings, it appears cashlessness now permeates most aspects of Swedish society. Businesses are not the only group going cashless. Churches are now providing their parishioners with electronic transfer information and payment kiosks instead of the collection plate. Beggars in Sweden are now equipped with mobile apps to accept electronic payments. It appears the daily use of physical currency is quickly disappearing in Sweden, and the Krona may soon be a relic of the past. That is until the power goes out.

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