Sweden | Cashless Country

Approx read: 2 mins

Sweden becoming a completely cashless country is the aim and this progressive country is well on the way to its goal of only having a digital currency.

Although the clever Swedes are noted for printing the first bank notes in Europe sometime in the 17th century, it turns out that they’re also trying to become the world’s first country that completely does away with notion of carrying currency around. A completely cashless society is the aim and this progressive country is well on the way to its goal of only having a digital currency. Is Sweden really a cashless country?

Ask a Swede when he or she last paid for something with a note and you’re likely to get a derisory look. Sure, it happens, but increasingly fewer transactions are conducted with cash. Over 85% of all payments in the country in 2015 were through digital transactions via cards or mobile apps. That national figure is a lot closer to 100% if only the major cities are considered. The rural and Arctic areas of Sweden are lagging (not far, though) behind the uptake that most Swedes have for both the technology and the concept of doing away with cash.

The homeless take plastic

As a business traveller to Stockholm recently my time there was seamless in terms of switching currencies from Euro to Krona. I didn’t need to give the keys any Swedish banks’ ATMs of a tickle for any of the folding stuff for my pocket as everything could be settled with an App, or debit card.  Paying for taxis, expenses in bars and restaurants, entrance to the Vasa Museum and then the Fotografiska art gallery. I even made a donation to a charity for the homeless collecting on the streets one night in Sodermalm via a popular Swedish payment App. So long as my phone had battery charge, so long as I was connected to a mobile network and so long as I had funds to pass over on the digital transaction, then all was fine.

But what if you’re a traveller without a smartphone, or, an immigrant to Sweden without a bank account and debit card? Then how do you pay? Or what if you don’t want to embrace the new-tech payment gateway? Well, the egalitarian Swedes need to consider these people and their situations, plus the issues connected to an older generation that aren’t comfortable with using anything but cash, and, some of its citizens may have disabilities or physical barriers that do not let them participate in the digital purchase structure. So, these ‘what if’ scenarios need to be included in the framework, design and path on how Sweden’s move to a completely cashless society transitions. Legislation will in all probability for now keep the Krona notes as acceptable for anyone to use for at least the next 10 years…just don’t expect change to be given.

How do I hide my illicit business profits now?

Finally, there’s the best reason of all why the government of Sweden has become an advocate and promoter of its move toward a cashless society. As the eternal saying goes, there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Say goodbye to all that cash under the mattress.

An avid international traveller, surfer lover of the oceans, writer and researcher.