A future without cash?
by FFE EU News Staff
According to the European Central Bank, 27% only of Sweden’s retail sales are done through cash.
The move from cash-based to a cash-less transactions through the use of credit or debit cards has long taken over Nordic countries, increasing the divide between north and south Europe. Those affected include criminals to the homeless, who depend on cash or cashless transactions for their living.
In these cashless regions, anything and everything can be paid for online through bank cards or by a text message, from hotdogs to a ticket to museums. Swedish central bank Riksbank said ‘Neither retailers nor banks have any obligation to accept cash.’
Meanwhile, Stockholm Royal Institute of Technology researcher Niklas Arvidsson said ‘We’ll probably not see a totally cashless society in the near future, but a society where cash is reduced to a minimum and used in very few situations, is probably quite realistic.’
However, Arvidsson said that there are many pros and cons to a cashless society. Cash is getting more expensive to carry than cards, making cashless transactions more appealing. However, the elderly and those coming from rural areas will have a problem in such a setting.
Swedish Salvation Army development director Leif Öberg worried that a future without cash can marginalise many people who can’t have access to bank cards since ‘you basically can’t do anything at all without [them].
‘The absolute and almost immediate effect … is that you can’t travel by bus. What we see at the other end of the spectrum is that the most marginalised get around on foot … or travel (by metro) without a ticket, but you can’t do that on the bus. That is the stark reality for people today.’
Arvidsson added that there are not enough laws that protect card users from having their information used incorrectly. In addition, smaller shops will have problems with high card fees especially since a 2010 law was passed that banned the surcharge imposed on customers paying with cards. This means businesses have to shoulder the transaction fees with banks.
But since Riksbank is planning to release new banknotes in 2015, small shops won’t have to worry too soon. Riksbank head of banknotes and coins division Christina Wejshammar assured everyone that ‘We believe cash will continue to exist in the near future. We can’t foresee it disappearing completely.
‘It all depends on how we act as consumers.’