Sweden Is Already Four-Fifths Of The Way To Becoming A Genuine Cashless Society

Cash is well on the way out. Picture: Getty Images

A new report shows that four out of five purchases in Sweden are paid for electronically or by card.

The Local reports Swedes are using electronic payments 260 times per person, per year. Electronic payments systems such as Swish are bypassing the need for people to use ATMs for cash, while at street level, even retailers of Sweden’s version of The Big Issue, Situation Stockholm, are accepting card payments.

It’s not a Europe-wide trend, either. In Italy, cash is still king, accounting for three-quarters of all purchases.

While going cash-free comes with an increase in security costs, it’s more than offset by the drop in cash-handling costs. In Sweden, cash-handling costs are estimated to be around $1.2 billion, or 0.3% of the country’s GDP.

And according to the Swedish Bankers’ Association, armed robbers are finding themselves out of a job. Just five bank robberies were reported in 2012, Sweden’s lowest rate in 30 years.

Despite the trend towards a completely cash-free society, a Sifo survey showed that letting go entirely could be a drawn out process.

Two out of three Swedes still believe that cash in the hand is a basic human right, associate professor of industrial dynamics Niklas Arvidsson told The Local, saying it could take up to the year 2030 for physical money to disappear from Sweden’s system altogether.

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