There is a push by governments in many parts of the world to substantially reduce cash transactions. It is considered the most effective way of defeating counterfeiters and fraudsters, limiting other illegal activities (such as burglaries and tax-evasion) whilst reducing costs and providing more precise control over monetary affairs. But we hadn’t realised that it had gone quite so far as it has in Sweden. According to a recent report in the Times of London less than 1% of the money changing hands in Sweden utilises notes and coin. This compares with 3% in Britain, 10% across Europe and 85% around the world.
Apparently a mobile payment app called Swish overtook cash for the first time this year. Some techies have even gone so far as to implant tiny radio transmitters beneath their skin so that they can pay their bills with their hands.
So is this the future? Yes, it probably is although it will take many years for cash to disappear. There are many in society who struggle with the digital world although their numbers will steadily diminish. You only need to examine your own circumstances relative to 20 years ago to appreciate how much the digital payment mechanism has been embraced. Your correspondent is old enough to remember when weekly or monthly pay-packets contained actual cash!
We have no problem with the gradual elimination of cash. The challenge for governments is, as always, to stay one step ahead of the cyber-criminals who will relish the challenge of hacking into a world wholly based on digital transactions. Some will claim that staying one step behind is about the best that can be hoped for. Let’s hope they’re wrong.