A New Central Bank Digital Currency for Sweden in the Works

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Cryptocurrency Writer

Published Nov 23, 2023 at 3:58 PM
Last updated Feb 23, 2024 at 5:24 PM

Which of these phrases have you heard: “cash is king,” “cash talks,” “cash only.” You’ve heard them all, right? Well, if you’re traveling to Sweden or live there -- prepare to hear those phrases much, much less.

China isn’t the only country going cashless and monitoring the financial transactions of its citizens. Sweden is hard at work doing the same thing. And it’s no shock to their citizenship. 

A survey across Sweden revealed that a mere 13 percent of Swedes use cash for recent purchases. That’s 40 percent fewer cash transactions than in 2010. In large cities such as Stockholm, you’d be hard-pressed hearing any coins jingling anyone’s pockets.

But that’s the norm In Sweden. In large metropolitan cities, going cashless is so hip that some Swedes are inserting RFID microchips under the skin in their hand so they can pay by simply waving their hand over the payment scanner -- like some sort of capitalist Jedi’s. 

That’s in stark contrast to a PEW Research Center study which declared that 70 percent of Americans use cash on a regular basis for all their purchases.

What’s a “Cash” Register?

A cash register is a machine sitting on the counter at a store. It’s where the employee accepts money from the customer as payment for coffee, scones, or items. But in Sweden, they almost don’t exist. 

"It's good for both the guests and for us," says Christopher Loob, Urban Deli’s GM. The eco-friendly restaurant in Stockholm stopped accepting cash in 2018. "It's saved us a lot of time in that we don't have to count cash anymore. There's hardly been any reaction. Almost everybody has the alternative payment method — a credit card."

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Therefore, as a “natural” next step -- Sweden began testing an e-krona. This central bank digital currency (CBDC) is in the pilot program phase. It’s set to operate for one year, until February 2021.

The general idea behind the e-krona is for blockchain-powered state-run cryptocurrency to push conventional payments and banking activities into the mainstream across the country. Citizens can move their payment to the state-run blockchain rather than go around swiping a credit card or spending fiat currency.

These developments actually put Sweden ahead of China in the development of a CBDC. China has only been teasing about it in the news. Sweden is barreling forward. It makes you wonder how privacy advocates will react when “cash is king” becomes “cash is gone.”