Swedish Phaseout

Is Death of Cash On the Cards?

Stockholm Cafe Linus Standal
No card, no cake. A cafe in Stockholm Cafe.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germans have traditionally been very wary of giving up cash, but economic reality means the country is likely to soon join the cashless revolution.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • In Sweden, 80 percent of purchases are made with debit or credit cards.
    • Just 18.5 percent of purchases are made with cards in Germany.
    • Many Swedish banks no longer issue cash.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

When the chief executive of Deutsche Bank, John Cryan, predicted a cashless future within ten years at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, the news gave rise to vociferous debate in Germany.

In Sweden, on the other hand, people felt vindicated: “We prefer credit cards” is written in large letters on signs in many Swedish supermarkets. The Stockholm Public Transportation Company no longer accepts cash payments, and even newspapers or a few bread rolls can be paid for with debit or credit cards or by mobile phone. And parking meters were switched to a cashless payment system a few years ago.

A future without cash, a scenario feared by many Germans, is almost a reality in Sweden. Former ABBA band member Björn Ulvaeus is a fan: A few years ago he lived for an entire year without using cash. His experiment made headlines internationally but merely caused shoulders to be shrugged in his home country, where most Swedes have ceased carrying cash with them.

Mr. Ulvaeus is calling for coins and bills to be done away with. They are “non-hygienic and promote labor on the black market.” He is trying to lead the way: The ABBA Museum in Stockholm does not accept cash.

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