Chairman of the Cash Rebellion (Swedish: Kontantupproret), Björn Eriksson, points out in an opinion piece that Sweden is extreme in supporting the abolition of cash. He also notes that several other countries have increasingly begun to work on strengthening the position of cash.
“Grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations are still the shining exceptions, but otherwise it’s almost impossible to pay with cash in regular shops, restaurants, and service stations. Cards, Swish, and various apps have taken over”, Björn Eriksson, a former director of the Swedish police and president of Interpol, states in Göteborgsposten.
He warns about the development and questions, among other things, the preparedness in place if the digital systems fail and one can no longer pay with cards or Swish apps. Swish is a digital payment service used by 8 out of Swedens 10.2 million inhabitants.
“People in digital exclusion are also affected, and it’s not just the elderly. Abused women, people with disabilities, and other socially vulnerable individuals cannot or are not allowed to use digital payment methods. Therefore, they are completely excluded in a cashless society. Do we really want that?” he asks.
Eriksson further emphasizes that far too little focus is placed on privacy, and that a digital economy means that every completed purchase is recorded and opens up for mapping and surveillance.
“The step is then not far to social credit systems, that is, companies or authorities reward or punish you depending on what you do. A decidedly uncomfortable development that is already a reality in China”, he points out.
Eriksson also notes how several European countries have reversed course and enacted laws that force trade to accept cash and to ensure that cash will continue to function as valid means of payment – something that has also been discussed in the EU. However, the situation in Sweden is different, he says.
“In Sweden, the phasing out of cash has rather been cheered on. Stores can simply put up a note at the cash register saying they do not accept cash. Simple and smooth, ‘entered contract,’ as it is called by lawyers. That this at the same time means that people are discriminated against is considered less important”.
The chairman of the Cash Rebellion laments the lack of interest from Swedish politicians in the issue and is concerned that those in power will do nothing before cash has been completely abolished and disappeared.
“The Swedish single-mindedness in favor of the digital must come to an end. We can certainly develop new smart payment methods, develop apps, and drive development in fintech. What we should not do, however, is to dismantle the analog system that we have and that we know works in all situations”, he stresses.
Last spring, Bloomberg published an article on how Sweden is singled out as the country leading the charge for the abolition of cash and is also described as a cautionary example of how little the future of cash has been discussed publicly.