Cashless in Sweden.

grarpamp grarpamp at
Mon Jul 22 01:16:09 PDT 2019

On 7/14/19, jim bell <jdb10987 at> wrote:
> How going cashless allows Big Brother to spy on your every move

How going cashless allows Big Brother to spy on your every move: As
thousands of Swedes get payment chips implanted in their hands, a
backlash is growing amid fears of data abuse

     Pensioners and disabled people have hit out at the move away from cash
     Former banker Hans-Uno Broström said the situation made people 'indebted'
     Britain is third in a recent analysis of cashless economies

By Ian Birrell In Sweden For The Mail On Sunday

Published: 19:22 EDT, 13 July 2019 | Updated: 22:36 EDT, 13 July 2019

Gustaf can remember the precise date when he last used cash. 'It was
October 7 last year,' he told me without hesitancy.

'I found an old note that I had forgotten about and used it to buy some sweets.'

Like many others at his university in Gothenburg, Sweden, Gustaf
relies on cards and smartphones to spend money. 'None of us use cash –
you just don't need it these days,' he said.

Card only: Sweden has become a cashless society so shoppers have
switched to cards and smartphones

But there is one problem – a big one. The 20-year-old computer science
student keeps losing his bank cards, along with others that swipe open
electronic locks for his apartment, gym and lecture halls. 'I laugh
about it but it is very inconvenient.'

So he plans to get a tiny microchip, scarcely bigger than a grain of
rice, injected into his hand which he says will make life easier as
well as being 'cool and futuristic' – following the lead of at least
4,000 other Swedes as their country hurtles into a brave new world
without hard cash.

They have chips inserted under their skin – usually above the thumb –
to pay for their coffees and bus and train travel, waving a hand
across payment machines as if using a contactless card.

This blending of human beings with technology sounds like science
fiction. Yet it comes as this Nordic nation – the first in Europe to
issue banknotes more than 350 years ago – leads the global march into
a cashless society.

Britain is close behind, coming third in a recent analysis of cashless
economies, with barely a third of retail transactions still made in
notes and coins.

Even pubs and cafes have started to go cash-free, while about 300 cash
machines close each month.

It's a headlong rush that has alarmed many in the UK – and prompted
the MoS to launch the Keep Our Cash campaign.

'If we don't take action now in this country, we're only a couple of
years away from Sweden,' warned Natalie Ceeney, the former financial
ombudsman who headed a review on access to cash published earlier this

Notes and coins represent just one per cent of the Swedish economy,
compared with an average of ten per cent across the rest of the
continent as cafes, shops and even banks stop taking cash.

Global march: Sweden is leading the way ahead to a cashless society
with Britain not far behind in third

After eating a prawn salad at Glashuset, a smart seafront restaurant
in Stockholm, I asked my waitress if they still took old-fashioned
money. 'Yes,' she replied. 'But we stop this weekend. We are Swedish –
no one uses real money any more.'

I heard this mantra repeatedly. Susanne Dahlberg, 53, a technology
manager, even said that when she had to get cash out last year, she
thought the notes were foreign. 'I realised it was the first time I'd
seen a new series of bills released three years earlier.'

At the Hotel Kung Carl, where former Sweden and Leeds football star
Tomas Brolin was hosting his 50th birthday party, one guest confessed
he had to be bailed out by his girlfriend as he only had cash, which
was not accepted at the bar.

Barely one in ten Swedes used cash last year for purchases, according
to a survey – down from four in ten in 2010 – while the total value of
banknotes and coins in circulation over the same period has almost

The case for going cashless is based on convenience and cutting crime.
Even the Abba Museum, shrine to the band that sang Money, Money,
Money, rejects notes after one member of the group became a prominent
advocate when his son's flat was burgled.

'It made me think: What would happen if this was a cashless society
and the robbers couldn't sell what they stole?' said Björn Ulvaeus.

So now the man who co-wrote possibly the world's most famous song
about money never carries cash – while a local journalist told me that
the switch to digital had pushed buskers and beggars off the streets.

Furniture giant Ikea is also following the trend, announcing last
month that its store in Gävle, about 100 miles north of Stockholm,
would be the first to abandon cash after a short trial found the move
freed up 30 minutes a day for frontline staff.

There were a few complaints, mostly from customers in the canteen – so
managers gave them free hot dogs or meatballs, then asked them to
carry a card next time.

But not everyone is enthusiastic. There is growing resistance from
groups such as pensioners – who say they are being left marginalised –
while experts warn about grave security implications for both
individuals and the State.

Extra time: By going cashless Swedish frontline staff free up an extra
30 minutes in the day

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency has urged citizens to keep some
cash in small denominations for use in crises such as power cuts,
cyber-attack or war.

This followed a suspected Russian cyber-attack on Latvia, just over
the Baltic Sea. Big energy blackouts in places such as Canada and the
United States have also shown the need for cash during emergencies
when the internet is unavailable.

There is another, more familiar, problem with relying on futuristic
technology: it may not live up to the claims – as discovered by Eric
Orlowski, a social anthropologist who had his hand 'chipped' while
studying these innovations.

Orlowski found the microchip was incompatible with many other systems
so has ended up using it for little more than activating the alarm in
his parents' home in southern Sweden.

'There is a lot of hype at the moment,' he concluded.

The backlash for cash began with pensioners and people with
disabilities fretting over unfamiliar technology and preferring
currency to the burgeoning array of credit cards, debit cards and
smartphone apps on offer.

Former banker Hans-Uno Broström, 74, does not own a computer, despite
ending his career in Handelsbanken's IT department, where he saw the
push for electronic money. He uses a card only for costly items and
walks out of stores rejecting cash.

'I think the cashless society is very bad for the youth since they do
not learn to understand how to take care of their economy,' he said.
'They don't learn debit and credit; they just think money is there to
use. Many end up indebted.'

Now he worries his ferry to Granholm, a peaceful small island without
cars an hour from Stockholm where his family has had a summer cottage
for three generations, might stop taking cash payments. 'Maybe it is
time to start an uprising,' he joked.

The Swedish National Pensioners Organisation estimates that about one
million citizens share Broström's dislike of the move to digital money
– a substantial minority in a small nation of ten million. An
estimated 140,000 elderly people still use only cash.

'This issue keeps coming up when I'm out meeting people,' said Jan
Andersson, its vice-president and a former MEP. 'Small bank offices do
not have cash any more, while there are also fewer and fewer cash

Andersson's father was a night-time bus driver, so he sees the benefit
of ensuring such people are not handling large sums that make them
vulnerable to crime. 'But we talk a lot in Sweden about freedom of
choice,' he added. 'You should also have free choice to use cash or
your card. That is no longer the case.'

Not everyone is happy with the switch away from cash - with concerns
raised that youngsters are spiralling into debt

He tried to take cash from a bank in the coastal city of Helsingborg,
only to be told to travel 40 miles to Malmö. 'An ice-cream kiosk owner
opposite the bank then told me he no longer takes cash because he
can't bring coins there. This shows the wider effect of these

At least 900 of Sweden's 1,600 bank branches no longer handle cash,
and critics say their bosses pushed the shift to make bigger profits,
while ministers are seeing higher tax receipts as the black economy
gets squeezed.

This bank profiteering was highlighted by Roger Elbling, owner of a
tobacconist and sweet shop in Stockholm, while serving customers in
his Sweden football shirt.

Elbling said that just one in ten of his customers uses cash today,
compared with about eight in ten five years ago. Yet it costs him 500
kronor (£42) to pay 100,000 kronor (£850) in digital cash into a bank,
compared with 150 kronor (£13) for the same sum in cash.

'It's great for the banks because they do less work and make more
money,' he said. 'When banks in other countries see how much ours are
making, trust me they will all do the same.'

So when did he last use cash, I asked. He smiled and paused to ponder
before replying: 'I think it must have been when I was on holiday in
Germany because I never use it in Sweden.'

Yet even technology student Gustaf admitted there were two camps at
his university: one that saw cash as obsolete, pitched against a
smaller group that feared handing over so much highly personal data to
private firms and state agencies.

One critic told me that when he asked friends if they ever used cash,
they said only when buying alcohol from the state monopoly since it
was 'a bit embarrassing'. As he pointed out, 'this innocent example
shows they fear the data can be misused'. Fans of digital cash accept
such concerns. 'We are complacent but it's just so convenient,' said
Malva Furst, 37, an art director who had just bought her four-year-old
daughter Kay an ice cream on her card. 'Yet I do worry about data.'

Although Swedes trust business and politicians more than in most
Western nations, assisting this rapid shift from cash, such privacy
concerns have been intensified by a series of recent outrages
involving data abuse and failures by technology giants.

Privacy fears have been raised through a move towards using cards and
fears over data

The Facebook scandal last year over Cambridge Analytica highlighted
how such data can be harvested and sold on to advertisers, secretly
turning customers into valuable commodities.

Some experts have deep concerns. 'In a society where you can't buy
anything without trace, or even possess money, then that is a less
free society,' said Svante Linusson, a maths professor at KTH Royal
Institute of Technology.

'Small payments may not matter but when you put them all together, you
build a big picture,' he said.

'This changes society fundamentally. If I cannot give my friend 500
kronor without the State knowing then we are handing over too much
control.' He also worries about parents being able to track precisely
how teenagers spend money and about women trapped in controlling

'I know of one woman who had to buy something she did not need from a
store, then take it back to get cash so she would not be interrogated
by her partner,' he said.

Linusson said he always tried to use cash in shops. 'My friends say it
is only me and a few old people that really care but I reply there are
big concerns over data and electronic money.'

The fiercest critic is Bjorn Eriksson, who as a former national police
commissioner, customs chief and head of Interpol, the global
crime-fighting body, might have been expected to embrace the shift
towards traceable cash transfers.

Instead, he heads Kontantupproret (Cash Rebellion), claiming this is a
fight between people and the elite. 'The establishment seems angry
some people still talk about cash but many people are angered by what
is happening. I see resistance growing.'

Eriksson argues there are three key concerns – inequality for those
who dislike digital cash or live in rural areas with limited internet;
state security at a time of rising regional tensions; and control by
autocratic governments of their citizens. 'Already in China these
things are being used to reward or punish citizens for their
behaviour,' he said. 'We are not likely to see this sort of control
being used in the United Kingdom or Sweden just now but this should
still be a serious worry for society.'

He accepts there is no longer any point robbing banks; the number of
heists in Sweden fell from 110 in 2008 to just two last year. But
identity theft has surged, especially from elderly people, and
electronic fraud cases more than doubled over this period.

'We have seen a dramatic increase in identity and cyber theft which
hurts society more than the old types of crime. We see people trying
to get hold of old people's data, then stealing all they have. Banks
are safer – but is society really safer?'

Comments 1970

The comments below have not been moderated.

Whostolemygalah, Perth, Australia, 6 days ago

People must realise that once you accept the Mark Of The Beast there
is no redemption you are lost. Those who refuse the Mark although you
will sacrifice your life you will go on to eternal salvation. Not only
will your life be on the line but those of family, friends and the
lives of your children. For many thousands, it will be a decision just
too great to make.

GlynB, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom, 7 days ago

No cash, and no prosecutions for shoplifting under 200 pounds. Doesn't
seem a very wise combination.

CornishPastyFan, Seattle, United States, 7 days ago

Brian -- Why should I believe that the supposedly omniscient God has
all the answers when there are countless contradictions in the very
book that is purportedly inspired by Him? (I.e, 2 Timothy 3:16: "All
Scripture is God-breathedand is useful for teaching,rebuking,
correcting and training in righteousness.) One of the most troubling
contradictions in the Bible is Matthew 24:36 that states "But about
that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the
Son, but only the Father." Yet, in John 10:30, Jesus explicitly states
that He and the Father are one. And in John 1:1-3, 14 - John calls
Jesus God and says He is the Creator who took on human flesh. So
either Jesus is God or He isn't.

Whostolemygalah, Perth, Australia, 6 days ago

Yes, Jesus is God but when God was reincarnated on Earth in human
flesh he was Jesus and lived his life as a human being and removed
himself from his Divine, Heavenly creator God. He did this so he had a
complete connection and understanding of the human spirit and not one
of a supreme, all-knowing Creator. I have many paragraphs from the
Bible where Jesus says undeniably that He is God.

Jon E M, Mortdale, Australia, 1 week ago

We had an outrage in Sydney last week where Woolworth's and other
major retailers could not process credit cards they could take cash.
Leave the system as it is! If its the credit card option only how are
some of our pollies going to pay their drug dealers?

Barefoot13andit, Sandybeaches, United States, 1 week ago

>From my perspective that's crazy !!!

sameoldtory, UK, United Kingdom, 1 week ago

There's no braincells left in Sweden these days

ade, UK, 1 week ago

That shows a 100% belief that computer systems will never fail.

CornishPastyFan, Seattle, United States, 1 week ago

@brian -- I've read it countless times. And this particular
contradiction was brought to my attention by biblical scholar Bart
Ehrman, who is considered one of the top New Testament scholars in the
world. In fact, his New Testament text book "The New Testament: A
Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings' is the most
prominent New Testament textbook in U.S. academia.

brian, Coopers Beach, New Zealand, 1 week ago

Bart ehrman isn't the final authority for the bible, and he's been
successfully debated by other scholars, who drew other conclusions to
the apparent contradictions. I've read the bible some 60 times, and
studied it, and there are easy answers to the so called
contradictions. Let's face it, the ones who focus on this, are doing
it to justify ignoring the whole God story, because it demands
attention if true, else they would just ignore it like they do the
other religions. The bible demands attention.

Barefoot13andit, Sandybeaches, United States, 1 week ago

I'll hold out as long as I can

sameoldtory, UK, United Kingdom, 1 week ago

Join us. Be one with us.

Coueelynn, Santa cruz, United States, 1 week ago

Nope. I rely completely on cash and I will not give up my freedom.
Cash is freedom,freedom from stores to know about you,freedom from the
government to control you,freedom from banks to overcharge you. I do
not trust governments,banks or conglomerates to have my best interests
at heart.

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