In 1660, Sweden’s Riksbank was the first central bank in the world to issue paper currency.
At the time, Deputy Riksbank Governor Cecilia Skingsley warned:
“We need to do the homework because it’s not an option for the public sector to stay on the sidelines and see the private sector cut off access to central bank money for individuals."
Additionally, Riksbank was actively looking toward cryptocurrencies as potential government-backed money.
But now, in 2018, Swedish officials are worried that too much (or too little in this case) is a bad thing warning:
"If this development with cash disappearing happens too fast, it can be difficult to maintain the infrastructure” for handling cash.
As Bloomberg reports, Sweden is widely regarded as the most cashless society on the planet. Most of the country’s bank branches have stopped handling cash; many shops, museums and restaurants now only accept plastic or mobile payments.
But there’s a downside, since many people, in particular the elderly, don’t have access to the digital society.
“No cash accepted” signs are becoming an increasingly common sight in shops and eateries across Sweden as payments go digital and mobile.
Last year, the amount of cash in circulation in Sweden dropped to the lowest level since 1990 and is more than 40 percent below its 2007 peak. The declines in 2016 and 2017 were the biggest on record.
But the pace at which cash is vanishing has authorities worried.
“One may get into a negative spiral which can threaten the cash infrastructure,” Mats Dillen, the head of the parliamentary review, said.
“It’s those types of issues we are looking more closely at.”
Riksbank Governor Stefan Ingves has said Sweden should consider forcing banks to provide cash to customers. In its annual report on Monday, the Riksbank said the question is what role it should play in a future with even fewer cash payments.
“The Riksbank is carefully analyzing this development,” Ingves said.
“Overall, I think we are facing structural changes in areas that have previously been stable. This is a development which will affect all the Riksbank’s departments and we will need to make strategic decisions regarding the way forward.”
If you have any misguided notion that a cashless society is not coming, just keep telling yourself that every time you use a debit card, credit card or your phone for your next purchase. With the elimination of cash we effectively hand over our individual human sovereignty to the banks and the government.
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Finally we leave you with Harvard's latest study on which nations would 'benefit' the most from going cashless...