The first batch of Sweden's new currency will come into play on October 1st, with over 300 million bank notes and two billion coins to be replaced as part of the gigantic project.
“The biggest challenge is to make sure that everyone has information about what the new notes look like, when they come into effect and when the old ones expire so that you can make sure you use them on time,” the head of cash at Sweden's central bank (Riksbanken), Christina Wejshammar, told The Local on Friday.
A fresh collection of bills featuring the likes of Swedish legends like director Ingmar Bergman, actress Greta Garbo and children's author Astrid Lindgren will replace other famous Swedes such as Nobel Laureate Selma Lagerlöf, botanist Carl Linneaus and King Gustav Vasa over the next couple of years.
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To help Swedes and expats on the way, the central bank is launching a new smartphone app with a scanning function that allows user to scan the bank notes to find out if it's a new bank note or one of the old, soon-to-be outdated, ones.
“The purpose of the app is partly to inform about how the switch is going to happen, what the new bank notes look like and how you can tell that they are genuine,” explained Christina Wejshammar.
Sweden's old and new bank notes. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT
While mainly adapted for people who are visually impaired and would struggle to tell the new bank notes apart, it also serves as a reminder for anyone else who may not know their Lindgren from their Lagerlöf.
“There's a Swedish and an English version of the app as well as 30 other languages that you can use. There will also be a game as part of the app where you have to tell the notes apart as quickly as possible,” said Wejshammar.
IN PICTURES: What will Sweden's new notes look like?
The new notes were designed by Göran Österlund, whose colourful “Journey of Culture” (Kulturresan) design was selected from among eight finalists back in April 2012.
New coins will also be in Swedish people's pockets from next year, including a brand new two kronor. A fresh set of one and five kronor coins will also be introduced, while the ten kronor coin will be the only currency that doesn't get a makeover.
The new 20, 50, 200, and 1,000 kronor notes will be introduced in October, with the new 100 and 500 notes to arrive one year later exactly, together with the new coins.
Today's 20, 50, and 1,000 notes will no longer be valid after June 30th 2016. The current 100 and 500 will be invalid after June 30th, 2017, together with the 1, 2, and 5 kronor coins.
Swedes have become less dependent on cash in recent years and as The Local reported in October, four out of five purchases in Sweden are made electronically or by debit card.
Researchers from Oxford University discovered in 2013 that Sweden's cash was among the filthiest in Europe, with bank notes containing more bacteria than all others across the continent. One would think that, at least temporarily, this will change when the new notes come into play.
Interview by Elin Jönsson.