A lot has already been written about the cashless revolution in the Nordics. A cashless society is “no longer an illusion but a vision that can be fulfilled”, claims Michael Busk-Jepsen, executive director of the Danish Bankers Association. For the past 60 years now, more and more people have predicted the disappearance of cash as we know it. All over the world, we are seeing a relentless march toward a cashless society, and nowhere is this more true than in northern Europe.
In Sweden, for instance, less than 20 percent of all consumer payments have been made in cash last year. Nowadays, although most Swedes use cards, there has been a steep increase in the use of mobile apps for everyday commerce.
Let us now look at Denmark. If the current conditions continue, there is a lot of speculation that the use of cash will be abolished soon. More than 40% of the population uses Danske Bank’s MobilePay app, which enables online purchases, money transfers between people or purchases in stores. All in all, Scandinavians rely on cash for less than 6% of all payments made.
The shift to electronic payments is expected to save shops time on managing cash from the till and money on security, and the use of smartphones and wearable tech is the cherry on top of the cake. NexChange recently reported that Kevin Jenkins, managing director of Visa Europe, stated that within five years, cash will be seen as “a peculiar way of paying for things.”
Denmark is one of the countries that are seriously considering and moving towards completely banning the use of cash the year 2030. Since 2015, the central bank has ceased printing bills and making coins, and many banks don’t carry cash, while the majority of retail sales in the country are now cashless, even at simple street stands (Lisa Mallner, Nordic Startup Bits). Denmark has also been an early adopter of Bitcoin. Mark Højgaard, CEO of Coinify which is a payments facilitator based in Copenhagen, recently told us that he believes in Denmark becoming 100% digital in the near future.
But what is interesting to see, as Business Insider suggests, is that this march to a cashless world will not be driven by governments or banks or other major financial institutions. It will instead, be led by start-ups, tech engineers and consumers who respond to their products. The cashless revolution started and will be led by sophisticated markets, like the ones of the Nordic countries and innovative tech companies that will take the role of facilitating financial services.