How much cash have people in Sweden withdrawn this year?

Clue: Less than last year, as you've probably already guessed. But a new law proposal could force banks to offer more options for withdrawing cash.

How much cash have people in Sweden withdrawn this year?
People are using less and less cash in Sweden. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT

Swedes withdrew 41 billion kronor ($4.18 billion) from cash machines operated by Bankomat in the first six months of 2019. That's 663 kronor per person a month, a 10 percent decrease compared to 2018.

It follows a general trend of fewer and fewer Swedes using cash in their daily lives.

But the move towards a “cashless society” has also received a lot of criticism, not least the fact that many bank offices have adopted what is sometimes described as a counter-intuitive policy of not handling cash.

Parliament is expected to soon approve a new law that would from 2021 force major banks to ensure that customers across the country are able to withdraw cash without having to travel too far from their homes, with fines of tens of millions of kronor for banks who fail to live up to the rules.

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But not everyone is a fan of the new law proposal. Bankomat is owned by Sweden's major banks and is behind around 80 percent of the total cash withdrawal market with 1,670 cashpoints across the country. Other major players are Ica and Kontanten, who own around 500 cash machines each.

“The state should not control in detail how commercial providers of vital public services should meet the needs of society,” said Johan Nilsson, market director at Bankomat, in a statement.

“Instead of a legal requirement based on place of residence, I would want banks to voluntarily commit to maintaining adequate cash infrastructure in those places where people are using cash.”

Lawmakers estimate that the new proposal to provide cash withdrawals across Sweden would cost banks up to 15 million kronor a year. But banks say the total bill would be much more than that.

“If Bankomat would meet the legal requirement we would have to install 300-350 new cash machines in Sweden. That's a fairly large increased cost for us. We estimate that it would increase our total operating costs by more than 100 million kronor a year,” Nilsson told the TT newswire.

Money vocabulary

cash – kontanter

coins – mynt

banknotes – sedlar

withdraw (cash) – ta ut (kontanter)

cash machine – uttagsautomat (or, commonly, bankomat)

We're aiming to help our readers improve their Swedish by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find it useful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know.

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