A homeless man is selling a newspaper in the bustle of a major city. A passerby stops to buy a copy. This scene could play out in New York or London or Berlin. But this wintry scene on the streets of Sweden’s capital Stockholm plays out differently: The homeless man pulls out a smartphone and card reader, and the customer can choose whether he wants to buy a copy of Situation Sthlm via credit card or mobile payment app.
To Swedes, this has long become part of their reality. They are advancing with great strides into a world of digital money. Throughout the country “no cash accepted” signs are a common sight, whether you’re getting a cup of coffee or a beer, buying a bus ticket, visiting the museum, using a public restroom or even making a church donation. In Sweden, hard currency is no longer needed in everyday life; it’s a nearly cashless society.
In Sweden, the amount of circulating cash has dropped to 57 billion krona, equivalent to €5.6 billion or $6.9 billion. The percentage of transactions carried out in cash has slipped below the 20 percent mark. “In the not-too-distant future, Sweden may become a society in which cash is no longer generally accepted,” according to the Riksbank, Sweden’s central bank.