It was just a little over a week ago when we reported that Sweden had begun a 5-year countdown to becoming a cashless utopia.
As The Local reported, “cash transactions today represent no more than two percent of the value of all payments made in Sweden, [and that estimate] will drop to below 0.5 percent within the next five years.”
According to Visa, Swedes use debit cards three times more than other Europeans. Even the homeless accept electronic payments. “The spread of debit cards has had a profound effect even on the street level with fruit and veg traders and even buskers and retailers of homeless magazines accepting cards or electronic payments using the popular Swedish smartphone app Swish,” The Local goes on to note.
As 65-year-old Stefan Wikberg told The New York Times in December, using SMS and mobile card readers effectively helped him climb out of homelessness after losing his IT job. He sells magazines for Situation Stockholm, a charitable organization and his sales rose 30% once he went digital. “Now people can’t get away,” he said. “When they say, ‘I don’t have change,’ I tell them they can pay with card or even by SMS.”
As The Times goes on to write, churches and museums now prefer cashless payments and “at more than half of the branches of the country’s biggest banks, including SEB, Swedbank, Nordea Bank and others, no cash is kept on hand, nor are cash deposits accepted.”
This may all sound rather surreal to some, but for Swedes it's not only normal, but desirable. “No one uses cash,” said Hannah Ek, a 23-year-old student at the University of Gothenburg. “I think our generation can live without it.”
Well Hannah, that's probably because most people if your "generation" don't understand exactly what it means to go cashless. This isn't all an effort to make life more convenient. You might ask yourself if there's any connection between your country's rapid shift towards cashlessness and the Swedish central bank's rapid descent into negative rates. You see, when you cannot withdraw any cash, the Riksbank can decide that banks should charge you for your deposits if the economy isn't moving along fast enough. In other words, you may not want to spend your money today, but if you cannot resort to cash, then what's to keep the bank from charging you 20% on your deposits in order to make you spend? Don't think too hard: the answer is "nothing."
Read the rest here..