Sweden: A soon to be cash-less society
A cash-less society
In recent days, I came across an article about Sweden’s leading race in becoming a cashless economy and it got me thinking… it’s been 6 months since the last time I used cash.
A year ago, I was discussing with a Swedish friend about cash and why I believed it was better than doing everything online. Fast-forward to today, and I realize that I was so naive. Of course, my whole paradigm of cash broke down after getting introduced to the Swedish way of paying stuff. Apps, online banking, and most importantly Swish. A mobile payment service which makes it possible to pay and accept payments from private individuals all of this verified through BankID, which is an identification solution much more convenient than having a token. Long story short, it is an app that allows you to send money as easy as sending a text message.
I have been in Sweden for over a year now, and like I said before, it’s been already 6 months without using cash, not a single transaction not even a single coin. Let me take a step back and explain how I stopped using cash before I start talking about something else.
It took me a few days to realize that Swedes don’t use cash that often. It all started in Chalmers when I noticed that at every cafe and restaurant there was a sign stating: “We don’t accept cash”; Even in a few parties, the invitation clearly said: “Payments only with card or student ID”. Chalmers as many other places in Sweden is a cash-less campus. So, there I was trying to use the cash that I brought with me from Mexico. Paying 600 SEK in cash at the supermarket and getting weird looks from every cashier I came across with. Almost like cash was some sort of extinct dinosaur.
Soon after I got my person number, I opened a bank account that gave me access to online banking and soon I was introduced to Swish. Don’t get me wrong, we do have online banking and card payments in Mexico. Even though it is different in Sweden, everything is just easy.
Many of you are new in Sweden, and are still waiting for your personal number or haven’t applied yet to get one. But, trust me on this one. Once you get used to paying everything with your card, there is no turning back. Everything is just so much convenient. Forget about figuring algorithms to split the bill perfectly in equal parts, or forget about not having change to pay for something.
Sweden is probably in the lead when it comes to digitalization for transactions. The result of this is cash being out of circulation at a fast rate.
A few facts about card payments.
To give you a little perspective about how is it in Sweden, I compiled a few facts about my experience so far combined with a bit of research in the magical world of the internet and a small talk with my roommate.
After asking my roommate “when was the last time he used cash?” he just laughed and said “I used a coin once to get a shopping cart….oh wait nevermind” and then he tried to remember for a minute when was the last time he used cash. Just like me, and probably many others, he used cash for the last time a couple of months ago. Cash has become something like an endangered species, some say that it is for good and some other argue that shifting to a 100% cashless society will impact people without access to a bank account or a smartphone.
To conclude this post, here are a few facts about cash in Sweden:
- Buses and trams won’t take cash.
- According to Riksbank, cash transactions made up barely 2% of the value of all payments made in Sweden in 2015.
- Swish is used to make more than 9 million payments a month.
- Even most of the church’s charity and donations come from a digital form.
- Swedes are more likely to ‘Swisha’ than pull out a couple of paper bills.
- Tourist attractions and slowly shifting to card and mobile payments.