In 1661 Sweden became the first European country to make national bank notes. Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology released a report Sweden may soon become world’s first cashless society. Cashless tendency started 20 years ago with increase of credit cards and was accelerated in 2012 with Swish application launched by several Swedish banks partnership. 4 million of 10 million Swedish already use it realizing 11 million transactions per month.
Already 80% of payments are made by no cash methods and this year 85 to 90 percent of all transactions in Sweden will likely be electronic, using cards, apps, wire transfers or some other modern mode of transfer while only 50% or less of payments are made by no cash in Japan.
In Sweden buses already do not accept cash as well as some taxis, eliminating the risk of transporting money and being robbed. Some small shops choose cashless system for same reasons. Bank robberies passed from 110 in 2008 to 7 in 2015. Main reason is more and more bank agencies deal only with digital currency. Government welcome this tendency which allows containing undeclared work and organized crimes, both sectors often using cash.
Use of hard notes declined in the Swedish economy passing from 106 billion kroner in 2009 to current 80 billion kroner. It is predicted amount of cash in circulation will decline by 20 to 50 percent between 2012 and 2020. It is estimated actual active cash circulation only 40 to 60 percent while the rest is kept by citizens’ safe boxes or at home.
Rapid shift to virtual money is not due only to government project but synergy of national legal, social, technological trends combined with governmental and private sectors. During the period from 2010 to 2012, 500 bank branches swift to full-digital transactions and 900 ATMs were removed around the nation, making Sweden Europe’s second worst country for cash machine coverage.
There are still many issues to be solved before a country become totally cashless but we may say Swedish model can inspire many countries bringing higher safety level against robbery, organized crimes and undeclared works. Being a destination we can feel safe in banks, shops and public places will surely have positive effects to tourists considering travel to Sweden.
Digital money is developing in many countries in the world as Hong Kong, UK, Netherlands and others as well as private companies proposing payment systems like Google Wallet or Apple Pay. Japan still reminds a country of cash with more than 50% hard note use for expenses up to 425 euros, but tendency shows cashless increases and we can expect even higher security level in already very secure Japan.
With Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games approaching and important arrival of foreign tourists who are used to digital money payments, thinking to develop foreign visitors friendly use conditions or start collaborating with existing system abroad may bring benefits to increase Japan image as a secure country and boost foreign visitor expenses.
Source: Le Monde, The Guardian, SEB Group