NO THANKS, WE’RE SWEDISH
With plastic the preferred method of payment for most transactions and with mobile payments taking off, the question on every FinTech enthusiast’s lips is: Is society on the verge of becoming 100 percent cashless?
Ifit’ s going to happen anywhere, Sweden, the first European nation to print paper money, is probably the place.
Led by Björn Ulvaeus – yes, the one from ABBA–and bolstered by t he country’s robust IT infrastructure and progressive temperament, Sweden is now looking seriously at going entirely cash-free. The rationale? To save cost and to pull the rug out from underneath criminals, including tax dodgers, who depend on anonymous and untraceable physical cash to exist. Remove t he cash and you remove the black market( or so the thinking goes ).
It certainly looks good on paper, although some are concerned about t he privacy implications, and the creation of an app called Swish t hat was created by a consortium of Nordic banks and allows cash to be transferred instantly between accounts without any fees means that millions of local snow use the a pp to pay for food, bus fares and even church donations.
"One thing that's quite funny is that when you collect these days, there are some who will raise their mobile phone in the air to show that they are giving," Swedish Church spokesman Mats Lagergren told Bloomberg.
The app is now used by over 50 percent of the population and is adding 100,000 users a month, and when surveyed about how Swedes paid for their most recent purchase, only 16 percent said cash in 2016, down from 33 percent in 2012.
But if India’s recent attempts to demonetise demonstrate anything – the government withdrew all 500 and 1,000-rupee notes, or 86 percent of the cash in circulation, overnight – it’s that the working poor are as vulnerable to strident anti-cash policies as any black market criminal.
93 percent of t he country worked ‘ off- t he- books’, so to speak, so in India the move quickly devolved into a financial emergency with small businesses struggling to stay afloat, staggering queues at ATM sand even reports of suicides and murder. Despite t his pain, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was voted back inin the recent elections, with many saying it was necessary to help deal with the country’ s crippling corruption problems.
In New Zealand, a recent MasterCard survey showed 90 percent of Kiwis used a card as t heir main payment method and 41 percent of consumers said they could live without cash in just a few years’ time. Half of those surveyed didn’t think we will be using cash in ten years.
When it came to the types of payment technology likely to take off ,59 percent said mobile payments, 47 percent said wearable technology like smartwatches and 42 percent said biometrics such as facial recognition and finger prints.