Sweden – the first cashless society?

Eighty per cent of all transactions in Sweden are made by cards. Digital payments via card or apps are so widely accepted that many Swedes no longer carry cash. Even children pay with debit cards.

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Photo: Faramarz Gosheh/imagebank.sweden.se

Sweden – the first cashless society?

Eighty per cent of all transactions in Sweden are made by cards. Digital payments via card or apps are so widely accepted that many Swedes no longer carry cash. Even children pay with debit cards.

Cash is no longer king in Sweden

Ask a Swede when they last paid for something in cash. The probable answer is last month or week. Digital payments via card or mobile apps are so common and trusted that many Swedes no longer carry cash. They even let their children pay with cards.

Bengt Nilervall ot the Swedish Trade Federation explains why:
‘In terms of the cashless society, I think Sweden is ahead compared with other countries because in Sweden there is – in general – a trust in the government, the system, the banks and the authorities.’

How do Swedes pay then?

Swedes mainly use debit cards (PIN usually required, unlike in many countries) and our new favourite mobile payment app, Swish. So many people are ‘swishing’ now that the app is credited for the reduction of cash circulating in Sweden, according to a study by KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Four out of five purchases in Sweden are made electronically, and Sweden’s central bank, Riksbanken, estimates that between 2012 and 2020, cash in circulation will have declined by 20–50 per cent.

Is everyone happy going cash-free?

Most are. But not everyone.

The majority of retailers like handling less cash. Swish and mobile payment methods such as iZettle make it easier for small business owners to operate cash-free.

But some vendors are frustrated with the transaction fees that come with cards, and even the new apps – just as in other countries. And parts of the older, less tech-savvy generation are not thrilled with the move to a cash-free society. However, as technology becomes a bigger part of everyday life for the older generation, Sweden’s move to a cashless society will only pick up in speed. Cash is already scarce, and card will become even more king.

Last updated: 18 July 2019

Sweden.se

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