We could cope with a cash-free society, Swedes say

Almost two thirds of Swedes say they could manage in a cash-free society.

We could cope with a cash-free society, Swedes say
An increasingly rare sight in Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Every other year the Riksbank reviews the payment habits of people in Sweden, and in the latest edition, seven out of 10 respondents said they could live without cash as a payment method.

That's perhaps not surprising considering the same survey showed that only one in eight (13 percent) had used cash for their most recent purchase. In 2010 the level was 30 percent.

Four out of 10 meanwhile had not used cash as a payment method in the last month – up from two out of 10 in 2016.


Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT

The Riksbank's new survey shows banks are part of the shift too, with the number of Swedish branches handling cash falling to 580 in 2017 – down 60 percent since 2011.

Sweden's central bank says it is the attitude of the public that is the driving force behind the change in approach. Between 2006 and 2016 the number of cash withdrawals from ATMs has halved in the country, despite the number of machines being stable. The average amount of cash taken out has also dropped by 56 percent during the same period.

Sparsely populated areas were the least keen on a cash-free Sweden, with one in five there using cash for their last purchase, and 35 percent saying they see reduced cash use as a negative.

Age is also a decisive factor: almost 80 percent in the 65-84 age bracket used cash in the last month, and only 26 used digital payment app Swish. In the 18-24 age group, only 45 percent had used cash in that time, while 80 percent had used Swish.

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