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Sweden wants to know who is hurt by cashlessness

Sweden is having second thoughts about its move toward abolishing cash, according to the Daily Mail.

The nation that reputedly is closest to reaching a cashless state is now considering the harm it might inflict on some of its people.

Young people and the elderly are spotlighted as potential victims of a cashless society.

Swedish authorities are asking for the continued production of coins and paper money for the time being.

Even with a pause, Sweden is much further along the path to seeing an end to the use of coins and paper money than we are.

The Daily Mail article reports that cash transactions comprise less than 1 percent of all transactions in Sweden.

In the United States, the number is 8 percent of transactions.

The European average is 10 percent of transactions involving cash.

Since Sweden is part of Europe, its less than 1 percent figure would have to be paired with a 20 percent usage figure from somewhere else to reach a 10 percent average.

Business and governments are pushing cashlessness for the same reason some want the U.S. cent abolished.

It will save money.

How much?

Well, the story cites IKEA, the well-known furniture seller.

Its business results reflect the 1 percent cash transaction rate, but it says its employees spend 15 percent of their time counting it, receiving it, and sending it to the bank.

Clearly this firm and other retailers stand to increase their profit margins by quite a bit if they can just force us to stop using pesky cash.

Governments, of course, incur the costs of striking coins and printing paper money and then shipping it to the banking system.

No cash at all would reduce these governmental costs to zero, so politicians could spend this money on something else.

The bonus for government is that with cashlessness the Internal Revenue Service could easily construct a complete record of every individual’s expenditures.

With that information in hand, do you think the government would just do our taxes for us to free us from the annual aggravation of filing tax returns?

That sounds like a slippery slope, I know, but if cash is gone, we will already be lying at the bottom of that particular hill.

Perhaps Sweden will identify other reasons why cash should not be abolished before it reaches cashlessness.

Can you think of any?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."