The Swedish authorities do not fit into the plan for a total transition to cashless payments by March 2023. According to the latest ECB data, in 2018, for the first time in 11 years, an increase in cash turnover was recorded in this Scandinavian country. The growth compared to 2017 was 7% - the volume grew to 62.2 billion kroons ($ 6.5 billion). Although in general, from 2007 to 2018, the Swedish krona turnover in cash decreased by 45%.
Alexander Timofeev, the head of the analytical department at Inst Invest Invest, told RT that one of the reasons for the increase in cash turnover in Sweden is related to the policy of the European Central Bank, which holds a low interest rate and recently announced its intention to reduce it in the future. The expert emphasized that it was for this reason that there was a risk of negative profitability in the country's financial market not only for bonds, but also for deposits.
As a result, growing nervousness can be traced in society, and therefore the Swedes began to replenish cash reserves.
The technical factor also influenced the increase in cash turnover - replacing old banknotes and coins with new ones. A number of analysts also attribute the slowdown in digitalization to the inaccessibility of cashless payments for some retirees and the poorest.
It is worth noting that for making cashless payments in Sweden, not only cards are used, but also a special Swish mobile application. So, according to the Swedish central bank, in 2018 the volume of payments through the application increased to almost 60%. However, a million Swedes, 600 thousand of whom are pensioners, are still inaccessible to non-cash payment methods. Although now in the country many shops, public transport and various services - from parking lots to paid toilets - are available only by non-cash payment methods.
Moreover, even active users of cashless payments in Sweden are against the complete rejection of cash. According to a survey by the Swedish company Bankomat AB, 72% of respondents want to leave the possibility of using cash. Experts point to active groups of the Swedish population that oppose the "cashless world."
“It turned out that not all citizens of Sweden welcome the“ cashless world ”. Previously it was believed that there would be no complete disappearance of paper money. But over the past two years, the authorities announced that Sweden will be the first country in the world to be free of cash, and by 2021 the authorities planned to reach the zero indicator for their use. As in many European countries, in Sweden public organizations are struggling with the transition to cashless payments, ”the head of the Russian Economic Society named after RT said in an interview with RT. S.F. Sharapova Valentin Katasonov.
B ankova gain
One of the active Swedish fighters with a “cashless future” - former President of Interpol Bjorn Ericsson - presented a report back in 2016, in which he named the largest Swedish banks Swedbank, SEB and Nordea the main beneficiaries of the transition from all settlements and transactions to virtual.
So, by 2018, Swedes in almost all banks of the country became inaccessible services and operations using cash. Valentin Katasonov noted that banks are interested in switching to cashless payments in order to receive more income from commissions on transactions.
“In the West, interest rates tend to zero. Some central banks already have a negative key interest rate. Accordingly, now commercial banks at any time can go into the red minus primarily on deposit operations, ”said the expert.
“If there is a minus on deposit operations, then the banking system that was created over the past three or four centuries will simply collapse, because it rests on the influx of deposit money,” Katasonov emphasized.
In connection with the refusal of Swedish commercial banks from cash, in October 2018 the Bank of Sweden (Riksbank) issued a document obliging all credit organizations of the country to provide services using cash. The materials also spoke about the possibility of cash payments in all other services.
However, some experts emphasize the benefits of bank transfer for the state itself. “Non-cash payment is beneficial for the Swedish treasury - due to greater transparency, the country's budget began to replenish much more efficiently and increased by almost 30%,” Elena Chizhevskaya, vice president of mobile and electronic commerce at RFI Bank, told RT.
"Electronic concentration camp"
We add that in the past two years, the Swedish government is concerned about various threats to society in the event of a complete rejection of cash. So, in May 2019, the British edition of the Sunday Times wrote that the Civil Emergency Management Agency (MSB) - a subordinate structure of the Swedish Ministry of Defense - sent special recommendations to the country's citizens. They reported on the need to have a small amount of cash in case of emergencies, including interruptions in electricity, cyberattacks, and even war.
In an interview with RT, the head of the BCS Broker investment department, Narek Avakyan, suggested that the concerns of citizens and the government could also be related to the leak of data from users of various systems and services - from Facebook to credit cards of some large banks. “The use of bank cards is associated with the risks of hacker attacks, account hacks and various fraudulent activities,” the expert noted.
The position of the MSB leadership is also shared by representatives of the Bank of Sweden, who told the Riksdag (parliament) that maintaining the kroon in cash is important not only in cases of emergency, but also in peacetime.
Björn Erickson also considers the Visa and MasterCard payment systems to be the beneficiaries of the refusal of cash turnover. In particular, there have already been cases in Sweden when they blocked the accounts of companies that, in their opinion, are engaged in "immoral activities." For example, Kristianstad radio reported blocking the account of a horror film company due to non-compliance with Visa rules, which led to the closure of the business.
“If there is no cash circulation, then it will be possible to twist ropes from people. Any deviation from the norms of even not only behavior, but also thoughts can lead to the fact that the person’s accounts will be blocked, and he will simply be “disposed of,” Valentin Katasonov said.
“After the completion of the electronic banking concentration camp, the world of money may disappear. There are simpler, more primitive measures of labor accounting, control and measurement of consumption and production - the so-called workdays, ”the expert summed up.