Who will win the cash battle?
The circulation of notes and coins is increasing all over the world. Only in Sweden has it been steadily falling for years. But now there is enough there for some too: the cashless madness is getting too much for them.
LFor a long time it was considered a law of nature: The Scandinavians, especially the Swedes, prefer to pay digitally – be it with a card or, more recently, with the most modern apps. 80 percent of all money transactions in Sweden are already processed electronically or by card, in Denmark it is 75 percent – and the trend has been increasing in recent years. Two thirds of Swedes can imagine doing without cash altogether. The enthusiasm goes so far that every second Swede has installed the Swish app, developed by a banking consortium, on his mobile phone. More than 1.5 billion transactions were processed in this way in the previous year – unimaginable in Germany, where the Paydirekt payment program has been failing for months, despite minor successes.
But now there is also an opposing movement. It is led by Björn Eriksson, the former head of the Swedish National Police. He is a minor celebrity in the country and the face of the “cash riot” as he is sometimes called in the local press. Eriksson’s struggle is marked by small, still symbolic successes: Parliament has ordered a review of the situation, and the central bank is slowly looking at the situation with concern. Eriksson’s argument is clear: Sweden is making itself vulnerable, especially in the highly sensitive area of payment systems. Hackers could destabilize the entire country by breaking into the systems. How rational or irrational such fears are is difficult to judge. In Germany, the number of cases of fraud in connection with card payments is falling and is hardly in the alcohol range. In Sweden, however, fraud in the digital world increased sharply, as figures from Euromonitor show.