Sweden Establishes Commitment to Go Cashless, Looks to Digital Payments

November 4, 2015         By: Michael Cheng

Sweden is making great strides in the cashless society movement.

In 2011 the country launched Swish, a payments app that allows citizens to make P2P transactions in real-time.

Since then, numerous local businesses have adopted the seamless practice. Fast forward to today, digital payments are now the preferred method of transaction for most residents.

“Cash is still an important means of payment in many countries’ markets, but that no longer applies here in Sweden. Our use of cash is small, and it’s decreasing rapidly,” said Niklas Arvidsson, an industrial technology and management researcher at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology.

Arvidsson predicts that cash will be completely phased out of Sweden in 15 years. A handful of banks in the area have already started to close down ATMs. Furthermore, individuals who use large amounts of bank notes are being flagged by local law enforcement groups.

To help children adopt the nascent technology, parents are issuing prepaid cards to their little ones for weekly allowances. Even churches are supporting cashless practices by accepting donations digitally.

Some residents are of the view that Swish is safer than carrying around hard money. Buses have turned to virtual payments after several drivers were robbed. This is also the same reason why the technology is spreading like wildfire in Africa. Individuals in the region use finance apps to manage their daily expenses and monthly bills.

While Sweden moves into the modern cashless era, many countries are still struggling to shift toward new payment systems. “Swish is a brilliant idea, but to introduce it internationally is a challenge, not least because it takes a long time to change other countries’ banking systems from scratch. But it is not impossible that a Swish-based banking revolution can also occur abroad,” highlighted Arvidsson.