Sweden leads the world in cashless payments

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Sweden leads the world in cashless payments
A customer prepares to pay using his smartphone at a Swedish food shop. Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT

For the first time, Swedes have overtaken Americans when it comes to the amount of cashless payments carried out, a new report shows.


Cash payments are decreasing in number across the world, with Sweden leading the way in the march towards a near-cashless society.

During 2016, people in Sweden made an average of 461.5 digital transactions, which corresponds to a 13 percent increase in just one year, according to the annual World Payments Report. In the USA, the number of non-cash payments increased by just 5.2 percent under the same period, to reach 459.6.

Sweden is expected to maintain its high growth rate and hold on to its position as the world's most cashless society, the writers of the report said.

"This is the result of a trend which we've seen for a long time in Sweden. We Swedes are tech savvy and today we can buy more or less anything using card or a phone. What's more, we have a central bank that talks about e-currency," explained Pascal Olin, payment and e-commerce expert at Capgemini, in a statement.

The key factor in Sweden's growth in digital payments is the fact the country has taken a range of initiatives to facilitate and support a cashless society, according to the report. This includes online payment apps, such as Swish, used by 6.33 million people in Sweden.

"The banks are unusually good at cooperating in Sweden. Besides Swish, earlier examples are Bankomatbolaget, Bankgirot and BankID. Very few other countries have these kinds of common solutions," said Olin.

South Korea came third in the ranking after Sweden and the USA, followed by Finland and Australia.

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