Paper Money

Swedish population blase over new currency

The news about Sweden’s introduction of new bank notes and coins in 2015 and 2016 may be eclipsed by the fact that the Swedish people do not seem interested in using them. A front page story in the New York Times of Sunday Dec. 27 calls Sweden a nation “where even banks don’t accept cash anymore.” The country, it is said, is quickly moving to a cashless future, with young people in particular favoring cell phone apps and plastic.

The article points out that only 2 percent of Sweden’s economy is based on physical currency. This compares to 7.7 percent in the United States and 10 percent in euro countries. In terms of consumer trade, just 20 percent of Swedish transactions are in cash, compared to 75 percent in the rest of the world. Half of the country’s large banks do not keep cash and do not accept deposits of it — providing for significant savings in security costs. The amount of cash in circulation is less than half of what it was in 2010, leaving massive quantities of uncirculated currency perhaps wanted only by collectors. A boon or a bane?

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