19 March 2012

Envisioning a "cashless society"

Excerpts from an AP article in the Washington Post:
Sweden was the first European country to introduce bank notes in 1661. Now it’s come farther than most on the path toward getting rid of them...

The contours of such a society are starting to take shape in this high-tech nation, frustrating those who prefer coins and bills over digital money. In most Swedish cities, public buses don’t accept cash; tickets are prepaid or purchased with a cell phone text message. A small but growing number of businesses only take cards, and some bank offices — which make money on electronic transactions — have stopped handling cash altogether.

There are towns where it isn’t at all possible anymore to enter a bank and use cash,” complains Curt Persson, chairman of Sweden’s National Pensioners’ Organization. He says that’s 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...

The number of bank robberies in Sweden plunged from 110 in 2008 to 16 in 2011 — the lowest level since it started keeping records 30 years ago. It says robberies of security transports are also down... The flip side is the risk of cybercrimes. According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention the number of computerized fraud cases, including skimming, surged to nearly 20,000 in 2011 from 3,304 in 2000.

Oscar Swartz, the founder of Sweden’s first Internet provider, Banhof, says a digital economy also raises privacy issues because of the electronic trail of transactions. He supports the idea of phasing out cash, but says other anonymous payment methods need to be introduced instead...

But there are pockets of resistance. Hanna Celik, whose family owns a newspaper kiosk in a Stockholm shopping mall, says the digital economy is all about banks seeking bigger earnings. Celik says he gets charged about 5 Swedish kronor ($0.80) for every credit card transaction, and a law passed by the Swedish Parliament prevents him from passing on that charge to consumers. “That stinks,” he says. “For them (the banks), this is a very good way to earn a lot of money, that’s what it’s all about. They make huge profits.”
I prefer using cash rather than credit cards for small transactions, especially when traveling.  Personally, I wouldn't want cashless transactions to be mandated, but perhaps I'm an old fogey.


  1. Revelation 13:16-18

    16And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

    17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    18Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.


    Bible prophecy is unfolding before our eyes, whether we believe in it or not....

    1. What are you babbling about? This is pure gibberish.

  2. Two issues I have with a cashless system:

    Electronic systems can and do fail, even without cyber attacks. Cash is a reasonable failsafe.

    Banks charge retailers (thus consumers) ridiculous fees for electronic transactions. Electronic banking should be regulated as a utility since it's no longer truly optional. Transaction costs should be controlled.

  3. Yet another nail in the coffin of our free society.

  4. Sure. Go to your local hardware store and buy replacement locks. You know, those in the packages with the key codes on the outside of the packaging, and pay with a credit or debit card. Might as well put a sign on your house: "We're stupid. Break in here."


  5. To me it seems that organized crime benefits the most from an anonymous cash systems. Less under the table money means more towards such things as education and healthcare.

  6. Have lived in Sweden for nearly 5 years. My experience with electronic banking has been very good. There are no paper checks here. I pay all of my bills from home. I can see my current invoices in my bank account inbox for rent, electricity, internet, etc 30 days before they are due, and then pay them directly. I pay a semi-annual fee of approx 15.00 USD.

    expat in Sverige

  7. We also need to start envisioning a "carless society".

  8. I share your concerns Stan, and I'm of that group most likely called "the youth of today". What worries me the most is that digital money is essentially virtual, and is controlled by someone other than the owner. Whenever I have to deposit money into my bank account I feel nervous, almost as if I'm letting go of it. I know this isn't true, but public trust in the banks is so incredibly low these days, I don't think we can really be blamed for feeling cautious at best.
    Besides, the convenience of having cash for small purchases is unrivalled!


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