Sweden’s ATM density is at its lowest in nine years with an average of just 3.2 cash machines per 10,000 people, the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper reported. Worst affected are the Uppsala and Östergötland regions.
In Värmland, western Sweden, pensioners staged a protest after another automatic teller machine was recently bricked up. Their actions prompted the Nordea bank to pledge to open a new ATM before the end of the year.
“The issue of cash machines has emerged as one of the most important to follow. New problems arise all the the time with banks closing branches, and the attitude to cash plays a factor, too,” Christina Rehnberg, of the county administrative board in Dalarna, told the paper.
Sweden is among the main countries leading the way for non-cash payments. Several businesses will now only accept cards while some bank branches don’t handle cash at all.
Swedish researcher Niklas Arvidsson recently wrote a report suggesting that the country could be cashless by 2030. However, he added for that to happen a complete ban on cash was likely needed.
“We have a situation where the number of withdrawals at ATMs decreases by 6-8 percent every year. We will see fewer machines, particularly in urban areas where the transition to card payments are quick. The change will be slower in rural areas,” said Stefan Bergelind, President of Bankomat AB, which operates 2,200 ATM machines in Sweden.
Cash is likely to remain a part of Swedish life for the foreseeable future with the Riksbank issuing new banknotes in 2015 and 2016 for the first time since the eighties.