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Pensioner revolt over bank's 'cashless' bid

David Landes · 14 Apr 2011, 10:43

Published: 14 Apr 2011 10:43 GMT+02:00

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"Scrapping the handling of cash within the banking world can, generally speaking, be considered as discriminating against the age group we represent," a local chapter of the National Pensioners’ Organisation (Pensionärernas Riksorganisation – PRO) wrote in its complaint, according to the local Nya Wermlands-Tidning.

The complaint, to be sent to Sweden's Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen – DO) by the local PRO chapter in Frykerud in central Sweden, comes in response to plans by Swedbank Värmland to remove cash-handling services from all of its branches in Värmland County, save for one branch office in Karlstad.

Swedbank's plans to go cashless, slated to go into effect on May 1st, will make it impossible for people outside Karlstad to withdraw from or deposit cash in their bank accounts, the group alleges.

"Those of us who live outside of Karlstad – a majority of the population in Värmland, consider Swedbank's plans to be incredibly discriminatory," the complaint continues.

According to PRO, the move will hit pensioners especially hard, as many cannot or do not want to use bank cards or internet banking services, making them more dependent on carrying out transactions using cash.

Forcing pensioners in need of cash to make the journey to Karlstad is an unfair demand for the bank to place on its customers.

Ahead of the filing of the discrimination complaint, local newspapers were flooded with angry letters from pensioners protesting Swedbank's decision.

"After having polio as a child, I'm wheelchair bound. I, and many like me, can't manage using a cash machine," Inger Vestergård wrote in a letter to the local Värmlands Folkblad newspaper.

"Waiting in line at a money machine is a problem for us. And now it's also fashionable to rob pensioners and handicapped."

Swedbank spokesperson Anna Sundblad told The Local that the bank "takes the complaint seriously".

"We consider all complaints like this to be a failure on our part," she said.

Sundblad explained that the rationale behind the decision is Swedbank's belief that the use of cash is on the decline.

Story continues below…

"There are many alternatives to cash," said Sundblad.

"We believe that using a bank card is a safer and more secure method of payment."

She emphasised that the decision to remove cash services in Värmland was taken regionally and added that the bank is open to exploring ways to help pensioners make the transition to a cashless society.

"We expect to have discussions about the various problems that may affect individual customers," she said.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:07 April 14, 2011 by Keith #5083
This is easily solved. The bank can hold the cashcards for those customers who do not wish to use a system, when they go into the bank the bank personnel operate the card for the customer in an 'in-house' cash machine.

Of course, the bank should not be allowed to charge for this facility.

Alternatively, the bank can pay the travel and time costs for each customer to come to Karlstad. And if you think that suggestion is crazy, it pales into insignificance compared to a bank that no longer wishes to deal with cash, especially for it's elderly customers.

Not a wise decision, Swedbank.
11:28 April 14, 2011 by johnny1939
I hate banks. You trust them e/ your money and they do everything in their power to make things as difficult as possible for you their customer. I would not trust a bank employee to keep my cash card they might help themselves to a little extra every time they "help" me to w/draw funds....brrr
12:16 April 14, 2011 by visitorfromnowhere
Crash JPMorgan, Buy Silver
12:35 April 14, 2011 by Swedesmith
What's next, a grocery store that plans to not handle food?
17:42 April 14, 2011 by Nilspet
A terrible decision by Swedbank. It is clearly a discrimination. I know many Germans who said that Sweden is one of the most cashless countries in Europe. I agree with them.

When I go to Germany (other countries in EU as well...) apart from using my bank card to withdraw cash in Euro I can pay everything in cash and I love it! In Sweden you can have 1 million kr in cash buy you cannot walk in some stores and shop because they do not accept cash!
05:20 April 15, 2011 by Da Goat
well the good news is it will no longer be of any use to mug elderly and disabled people as they have no cash, muggers will have to migrate back to Malmo!
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