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New app lets Swedes transfer cash via mobile

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15:28 CET+01:00
Sweden’s major banks have joined forces to launch an app allowing users to transfer money in real time using mobile technology, simplifying restaurant bill-paying and moving Sweden one step closer to being a cashless society.

“Imagine you want to sell a bike,” Danske Bank spokesman Erik Kristow told The Local.

“But you don’t want to hand it over until you see the money. Well, I could simply ‘Swish’ you the amount with my phone, you could see it enter your account in real time. Then I could cycle off with my new bike.”

Swish, a mobile payment service launched last week, is even a world first according to Head of Channels at Danske Bank, Daniel Wahlstrom.

"This is unique because of the collaboration of the banks, and the fact that the money is instantly transferred from one bank account to the other,” he said.

"Many of the other systems around the world rely on a credit card platform, whereas Swish works via your own salary account, and you can see the transaction as soon as it's happened."

The app was developed in collaboration between the six largest banks in Sweden: Danske Bank, Handelsbanken, Länsförsäkringar Bank, Nordea, SEB and Swedbank, their biggest cooperation in 50 years.

According to Nordea spokesman Ragnar Roos, Swish thrives in person-to-person transactions where an exact cash figure is needed.

“People have smaller amounts of money to transfer and often don’t want to use cash. Swish is more useful than cash, especially in situations where you find yourself splitting the bill at dinner, for example," he told The Local.

“It’s not a service for shops, it’s strictly between people. It even works for transactions on sites like Blocket,” he said, referring to the popular Swedish buy-sell site.

Users simply need to connect their mobile number with their internet banking service, and then download the Swish service to their phones using Mobile Bank-ID.

And tech-hungry Swedes have already answered the call.

According to Kristow, the app has been downloaded over 40,000 times since its release earlier this month, a figure he admits has exceeded the banks' expectations.

“Consumers in Sweden are eager to adapt to new technology and mobile use is growing rapidly. All these banks have apps for mobile banking, so the usage is increasing quite rapidly," he said.

"Internet use is high too, and the market is ready for an alternative to cash and credit cards.”

Kristow added that the unique benefit of the service is the practical advantage of seeing the money transferred in real time.

So does Swish take Sweden one step closer to a cashless society?

“Perhaps,” Kristow laughs.

Story continues below…

“Soon you’ll only need your wallet for your business card. And maybe a credit card or two.”

Swish walk-through video, in Swedish

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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