Saturday, December 26, 2015

"In Sweden, a Cash-Free Future Nears"

You can generally place a person on the socio-economic continuum based on the amount of stuff they carry.
A homeless bag lady carries everything she's got. Prince Charles, who has four homes, doesn't even carry cash.

Of course there are exceptions. If I go down to the lobby, sometimes the young office girls might be carrying three handbags, even though they are working/lower-middle class, they end up with a lot of stuff they need access to throughout the day and are actual bag ladies.

Poor people carry cash, rich people do not. As Vonnegut said it Slaughterhouse Five: "And so it goes".
Now the poor can be more like Prince Charles.

From the New York Times:
Parishioners text tithes to their churches. Homeless street vendors carry mobile credit-card readers.

Even the Abba Museum, despite being a shrine to the 1970s pop group that wrote “Money, Money, Money,” considers cash so last-century that it does not accept bills and coins

Few places are tilting toward a cashless future as quickly as Sweden, which has become hooked on the convenience of paying by app and plastic.

This tech-forward country, home to the music streaming service Spotify and the maker of the Candy Crush mobile games, has been lured by the innovations that make digital payments easier. It is also a practical matter, as many of the country’s banks no longer accept or dispense cash.

At the Abba Museum, “we don’t want to be behind the times by taking cash while cash is dying out,” said Bjorn Ulvaeus, a former Abba member who has leveraged the band’s legacy into a sprawling business empire, including the museum.
Not everyone is cheering. Sweden’s embrace of electronic payments has alarmed consumer organizations and critics who warn of a rising threat to privacy and increased vulnerability to sophisticated Internet crimes. Last year, the number of electronic fraud cases surged to 140,000, more than double the amount a decade ago, according to Sweden’s Ministry of Justice.

Older adults and refugees in Sweden who use cash may be marginalized, critics say. And young people who use apps to pay for everything or take out loans via their mobile phones risk falling into debt.

“It might be trendy,” said Bjorn Eriksson, a former director of the Swedish police force and former president of Interpol. “But there are all sorts of risks when a society starts to go cashless.”

But advocates like Mr. Ulvaeus cite personal safety as a reason that countries should go cash-free. He switched to using only card and electronic payments after his son’s Stockholm apartment was burglarized twice several years ago.

“There was such a feeling of insecurity,” said Mr. Ulvaeus, who carries no cash at all. “It made me think: What would happen if this was a cashless society, and the robbers couldn’t sell what they stole?”

Bills and coins now represent just 2 percent of Sweden’s economy, compared with 7.7 percent in the United States and 10 percent in the euro area. This year, only a fifth of all consumer payments in Sweden have been made in cash, compared with an average of 75 percent in the rest of the world, according to Euromonitor International.

Cards are still king in Sweden — with nearly 2.4 billion credit and debit transactions in 2013, compared with 213 million 15 years earlier. But even plastic is facing competition, as a rising number of Swedes use apps for everyday commerce....MORE