Norway Could Be The World’s First Cash-Free Country

A Digital Society

Eliminating cash is one of the many steps that the Conservative Party wants to take towards becoming a digital society. Their plan is to phase out cash within the next 13 years.

The first step will be to get rid of the requirement to accept cash as a form of payment by 2020. Businesses will get to choose if they are willing to accept cash. This will be ideal for some businesses that fear robbery or want to save money by not using cash. 

By January 1st, 2018, the Conservative Party wants to introduce mandatory online billing, according to VG. By 2030 they hope that Norway will be the world’s first cash-free society. 

Hindering Criminal Activity

The Norwegian Police Federation supports the idea. They are of the opinion that it could contribute to hindering black market activity and criminal activity.

“With less cash in circulation, money exchange will have to take place in a way that is more visible and therefore easier to control for both the police and the tax authorities,” Sigve Bolstad, leader of the Norwegian Police Federation tells Dagbladet.

The Director for Digitization and Money Transfers of Finance Norway, Jan Digranes doesn’t think having cash is worth the problems it creates.

“Cash represents such a small part of payment in our society that we can easily do without it.  Managing cash costs twice as much as electronic payments, and without cash, problems related to economic crime, the black market and robbery can be reduced.”

Cash Is Becoming Irrelevant

Paying with a card is commonplace in Norway. Cards are widely accepted around the country. A new service by DNB called Vipps is another alternative to cash that gained popularity last year. The app allows users to register their bank cards and thus transfer money and make purchases instantly on their phones.

Kantar TNS recently did a survey for Nets that showed that almost everybody in Norway uses a bank card. The amount of people that say that they use a bank card has varied between 98 and 99 per cent in the last few years. 

The same survey showed that bank cards are the preferred form of payment for 91 percent of people. 81 per cent said that they usually pay with a card even when they are buying something that is worth less than 50 Norwegian Crowns (5.95 USD).

YES To Cash

In the aftermath of the discussion about whether or not Norway should continue using cash, a Facebook group started. The “JA til kontanter” (YES To Cash) Facebook group became so popular that it later became a formal organization. 

The members of the organization have various reasons for defending cash’s role as legal tender. Jørund Rytman, who is one of the founders of the organization “JA til kontanter” and also a member of Parliament believes that cash is important for privacy and security.

He told NRK, “If you pay online, you’re leaving tracks. And with regards to emergency situations, you can lose power and network problems can occur.”

He also thinks that eliminating cash would be unfair to certain age groups.

“There are practical challenges. For example, older people don’t feel comfortable with new technologies.”

Rytman points out that there are disadvantages for children as well.

“Not physically seeing money can create problems for the way that children and young people understand money.”

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