The first country to introduce bank notes in 1661 is about to follow the advice of one of its pop stars and replace them with cyber transactions.
According to USA Today, Bjoern Ulvaeus, former member of popular beat combo Abba, has been instrumental in lobbying the government to dump cash and move to electronic cash.
In most Swedish cities, buses don’t accept cash and tickets are prepaid or bought with a mobile phone text message. Some businesses only take cards, and some bank offices have stopped handling cash altogether which means they do not have to get themselves robbed.
Of course this brave new world is not for everyone. Curt Persson, chairman of Sweden’s National Pensioners’ Organisation says there is a problem for elderly people in rural areas who don’t have credit cards or don’t know how to use them to withdraw cash. This is causing a crisis because they cannot buy food or flat pack furniture.
But, apparently, even the churches are starting to install card readers instead of the traditional collection plate.
Cash is only part of three percent of Sweden’s economy, compared to an average of nine percent in the Eurozone and seven percent in the U.S.
So why is “Money, Money, Money” Ulvaeus interested in a cashless society? Well if you saw the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sweden is a country full of guns, violence, nazis, and open sandwiches. He told CBS it was all a matter of security.
His son has been robbed three times and he wants the country to move to a digital economy much faster to make life harder for thieves.
The Swedish Bankers’ Association says the shrinkage of the cash economy has caused the number of bank robberies to fall from 110 in 2008 to 16 in 2011.
Electronic transactions are also making it difficult to hide cash, bribe people, or carry out shadow economy activities.
Of course it has lead to an increase in cybercrime, but since these do not involve someone looking down the barrel of a sawn off shotgun people are less concerned.