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We are cash-free: Sweden's fintech outlook

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“We are a cash-free hotel. Payments can be made with the most common credit cards”. This was the message I received from the hotel in Stockholm when stepping onto the Viking land of Sweden.

“We are cashless,” “We only accept card payment,” and “No cash” — these were the messages virtually everywhere I went in Stockholm. From the moment you land, it becomes apparent what Sweden is quite proud of. Sweden is much like China in this respect, cashless, digital, modern, but much easier for tourists.

This experience was something I expected from Sweden, and quite happy to witness. A remarkable example of a cashless economy in Europe. Funny how it resonates with the historic relationship Swedes had with the gold coins — breaking them into halves, throwing them in piles to weigh.

Pay for parking, ferry, public toilet, and transport? Cards only.

Everywhere I look, I can see not only a cashless experience but also a contactless, smartphone-centric. Virtually everything everywhere supports tapping (ApplePay, Google Pay, anyPay) or scanning with the phone. 

Scanning is reserved for Swish, the Swedish instant payments wallet designed and governed by the banks—one of the first fast payment schemes in the world. I wish I could try, but this is reserved for the locals only who have a local bank account.

I thought I would see more of Klarna though, the Swedish BNPL unicorn conquering global markets, however, it might be that it is more common in the online experience than offline.

So I got it. Sweden loves the cashless experience. Then I am not sure how to explain the ATMs for withdrawing cash. There are plenty. Where and what do you spend it, Sweden?

 

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