Technology, Credit Cards, Sweden

Technology, Credit Cards

What can we learn from Sweden, the ultimate cashless society?

The collapse of cash in Britain has been dramatic.

10.10.2019

In a country where public trust in government and internet coverage is high, there is no significant kick-back

The collapse of cash in Britain has been dramatic.

It has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As everything from Ikea stores to public transport to the Abba museum have gone cashless, so Swedes have ditched notes and coins. In a country where public trust in government and internet coverage is high, there is no significant kick-back. Polls show that only a quarter of people miss cash, while almost half actively welcome its parting.

Wait until people with inconvenient views get their cards frozen...

“Even today, attacks are taking place against our IT systems,” it notes, listing a kit of emergency supplies all Swedes should keep. Alongside a wind-up radio, they are told to salt away “cash in small denominations”.

“In Sweden, we were repeatedly advised to plan now – because once their infrastructure had gone, putting it back was close to impossible,” wrote Natalie Ceeney, chair of the review.

Sweden’s profound turn away from cash represents a challenge to that unique expression of the cohesive power of the state. Crypto-currencies like Bitcoin – decentralised digital tokens whose accounts are effectively run not through a central bank but a “distributed ledger” – pose a similar threat.

Back in Britain, the Bank of England says it is “not planning to create a central bank-issued digital currency”. Yet in a speech in America in August, Governor Mark Carney suggested that a network of CBDCs could unite to create a “Synthetic Hegemonic Currency” (SHC) – one digital currency to rule them all. “The concept is intriguing,” he said, noting that social media’s notorious “move fast and break things” approach was supremely ill-adapted to the financial system.

“Money is about trust,” says Dr Tatiana Cutts, at the LSE’s department of law. Naturally, the strongest, most stable institutions attract the most trust – one reason why US dollars are used by many millions of people every day, often in developing or unstable countries, even though they are not the state currency.

Indeed, there are those who believe that our identities, the very data underlying who we are, has become a currency in itself, to trade and spend. That the rise of digital, cashless transactions has unleashed a world where, in the words of Michael Rolph, of Yo-Yo Wallet, “data and currency are fused”.

Read more: The Telegraph

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