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The Almighty Buck Technology

Sweden Moving Towards Cashless Economy 447

Posted by timothy
from the all-pancakes-and-lingonberries dept.
cold fjord writes "Sweden is rapidly moving towards a cashless economy. How will Sweden, and other countries in the future, balance efficiency, privacy, government control, and civil liberties? Or will they do all that technology allows? 'Bills and coins represent only 3 percent of Sweden's economy, compared to an average of 9 percent in the eurozone and 7 percent in the U.S. ... The Swedish Bankers' Association says the shrinkage of the cash economy is already making an impact in crime statistics. The number of bank robberies in Sweden plunged from 110 in 2008 to 16 in 2011 — the lowest level since it started keeping records 30 years ago. It says robberies of security transports are also down. The prevalence of electronic transactions — and the digital trail they generate — also helps explain why Sweden has less of a problem with graft than countries with a stronger cash culture, such as Italy or Greece, says economics professor Friedrich Schneider of the Johannes Kepler University in Austria. The flip side is the risk of cybercrimes. According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention the number of computerized fraud cases, including skimming, surged to nearly 20,000 in 2011 from 3,304 in 2000.'"
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Sweden Moving Towards Cashless Economy

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  • Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:46AM (#39414001) Journal

    I don't care what sort of up sides it has. The government being able to track every last penny spent is far too frightening to even consider.

    • Re:Scary (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:49AM (#39414051) Journal
      We understand your concern, citizen.

      Here in glorious America, we will naturally let Visa track every last penny spent, because the private sector is superior, and they will simply sell that data to law enforcement, among other interested stakeholders, as part of their process of 'monetizing consumer metrics'. Free as in 'Free Market'!
      • Re:Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mooingyak (720677) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:00PM (#39414213)

        We understand your concern, citizen.

        Here in glorious America, we will naturally let Visa track every last penny spent, because the private sector is superior, and they will simply sell that data to law enforcement, among other interested stakeholders, as part of their process of 'monetizing consumer metrics'. Free as in 'Free Market'!

        It's not like everyone's oblivious to the fact that when you use Visa your purchases can be tracked. I'm aware of it every single time. But right now I have a choice to use cash if I want some discretion.

      • Re:Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

        by judoguy (534886) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:06PM (#39414293) Homepage
        VISA doesn't track every penny spent. I write credit card billing software. VISA, MC, et al just get a transaction total. Only the vendor knows what was charged. VISA can look at the vendor and make assumptions, however they don't know if I bought a lot of candy bars or gas or what mixture of transactions from a Mobil station.
        • Re:Scary (Score:5, Interesting)

          by vlm (69642) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:26PM (#39414605)

          VISA does not know how many candy bars you bought, retail corporate does. Even back in the very early 90s I know for a fact they did, as I was getting interested in IT and our food store did complete transaction uploads nightly. Its not as much data as you'd think, even at 2400 baud. We had to upload distinct sales data anyway, think about it, otherwise how would automated push-ordering work? There were cube dwellers at corporate who's entire lives revolved around how many hamburger buns were sold the saturday of labor day or whatever.

          So you are correct that VISA does not sell transaction detail records, but that doesn't mean they're not sold, it means the detail record comes from the retailer. At least it did 20 years ago.

          • by gfreeman (456642)

            Wait - 20 years ago some corporate bod knew that Mr Smith of 23 Acacia Avenue bought hamburger buns? I think not.

            • Re:Scary (Score:5, Interesting)

              by vlm (69642) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:44PM (#39414925)

              Wait - 20 years ago some corporate bod knew that Mr Smith of 23 Acacia Avenue bought hamburger buns? I think not.

              Yes. 20 years ago is only 1992, not like the 60s or something. In 1990, 91, something like that our mid size grocery store in a mid size suburb of a mid size city got roughly 386 class machine (was it a 486?) in the managers office and it ran the dbms that read the upc from the scanner and told the register what to charge and its tax status. Also it kept a list of all loyalty cards who owed us money for bounced checks (at one point my job was keeping that list updated). We uploaded nightly at 1030 and woe to the assistant manager who couldn't "close out" before the upload began. Also we downloaded lists of bounced checks/loyalty cards from OTHER stores..

              We made a big freaking deal about giving you coupons that reflected your previous purchases. Maybe, like 99% of the population, you just threw that out, but that doesn't mean we didn't print the coupons at the bottom of the register tape. You had a "check cashing/loyalty card", right? To at least some extent your coupons mailed to your door reflected your purchases... the presence or lack of baby formula and dog food tended to reflect your previous purchases... We didn't do individualized personalized coupon mailings, but we did classify them.

              Now I donno if they stored all the data, or how long. Now a days you'd assume they keep it all forever. Back then I would assume they wiped whatever they thought appropriate when they needed space. At that time (err, 93 or so) I was using a 40 meg drive and a 386/40 with 5 megs ram to run SLS linux.. Can't store everything forever with that tech.

              Didn't you notice that if you bought something with a CC and returned it with a receipt, we credited your card without asking to see it again? We had all that stored.

              I suppose it depends on location, blah blah blah, but I was at a unnoteworthy little grocery store most nights while going to tech school in the day.

            • by Aryden (1872756)
              When I worked for Kroger Food stores in the 90's, we uploaded that data every single night. We had to take any online register off, close their drawers out and then begin the process of batch totaling and upload of the days sales figures as well as a transaction by transaction record. We could pull up any transaction for the day from the register or from prior dates via logging into the central database.
            • Maiden? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by KingAlanI (1270538)

              did you mean to reference the Iron Maiden song 22 Acacia Avenue with your sample address?

              anyway, I don't see how people knowing that you bought hamburger buns is a big deal.

            • by peragrin (659227)

              At my previous employer we had digital live records of every transaction of every item our customers bought since 1989 when the system first went online.

              I could track the entire history of your purchases of that item how much the price changed, etc.

              My new company doesn't keep the active records that long only 5 years worth. but right now I have a P2 HP notebook from the previous company with the Netware networked database on it.

              if you want scary look at your amazon account sometime. you can see your entir

          • Re:Scary (Score:5, Interesting)

            by snowbored (2599639) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:31PM (#39415597)
            VISA sure as heck does know. How do you think you get double points for gas, or hotel stays, or whatever? Depending on the card, up to the first 19 items you purchase get sent back to VISA. So if you don't want a record that you bought something, make it your 20th item (and don't buy 20 oranges, I wrote the software smart enough to group the same items). They do only know generic things (you purchased a food item, not that your purchased a specific candy bar), but the generic list is broken down into things like alcohol, tobacco, so they do have information you might not want them to know like that last Friday you bought a six pack and some smokes from the corner gas station.
          • I once had a business trip to Germany and bought a cuckoo clock there with my credit card to have shipped home. When I got back to the US there was a voicemail at home from my credit union regarding a suspicious transaction in Germany and they were putting it on hold. I confirmed the transaction and they released it. Apparently this was caught by their theft detection system.

            Credit card companies CAN collect what you purchased and where. If your card is stolen, they can track purchase patterns against
          • Re:Scary (Score:5, Informative)

            by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @03:47PM (#39417767)

            VISA does not know how many candy bars you bought, retail corporate does.

            Target certainly knows this - and more. See this NYT article: How Companies Learn Your Secrets [nytimes.com]. From page 7 of 8:

            About a year after Pole created his pregnancy-prediction model, a man walked into a Target outside Minneapolis and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching coupons that had been sent to his daughter, and he was angry, according to an employee who participated in the conversation.

            “My daughter got this in the mail!” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?”

            The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again.

            On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. “I had a talk with my daughter,” he said. “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.”

            • by Lennie (16154)

              Some also do mobile phone tracking which means they look where you walk through the store, some even have software which figures out the ID of the phone. So they can combine that data with that of previous visits. Maybe they can even combine that with what you bought.

              I haven't looked at NFC to see to see if that would make it easier to do that.

      • by harl (84412)
        Don't forget that we'll pay them 2-5% of every transaction for the privilege. Up to 30% for the privilege of paying in installments.
    • Re:Scary (Score:5, Funny)

      by seven of five (578993) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:53AM (#39414105) Homepage
      Don't worry... they're moving to Bitcoin.
    • Re:Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pieroxy (222434) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:53AM (#39414123) Homepage

      I don't care what sort of up sides it has. The government being able to track every last penny spent is far too frightening to even consider.

      Add to that the title of the previous story on Slashdot: The Risk of a Meltdown In the Cloud

      Well. What could go wrong?

    • I don't care what sort of up sides it has. The government being able to track every last penny spent is far too frightening to even consider.

      Why is that any more or any less scary than a private company being able to do exactly the same thing?

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        Why is that any more or any less scary than a private company being able to do exactly the same thing?

        Err, I'm not sure how they connect or track me with the cash I use for local purchases.

        That's the point...if you use cash, it makes it very difficult for the govt. or private industry to track your expenditures.

    • Re:Scary (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SpeZek (970136) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:14PM (#39414401) Homepage Journal

      You know, it might be a completely alien thought to some (most?) Americans but some countries have citizens / subjects that trust their government to represent and protect their interests.

      • You know, it might be a completely alien thought to some (most?) Americans but some countries have citizens / subjects that trust their government to represent and protect their interests.

        Good for them. Really, if their government really does represent their interests, it is good for them. But that does not describe the United States government unless you are quite wealthy or a corporation.

      • Re:Scary (Score:4, Informative)

        by BlueParrot (965239) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:36PM (#39414793)

        You know, it might be a completely alien thought to some (most?) Americans but some countries have citizens / subjects that trust their government to represent and protect their interests.

        I can assure you Sweden is not among them. People here are fairly sceptical to politicians, and one of the massive headaches for our government right now is that people don't like the data-retention laws that EU directives require member states to implement. Basically most people here pretty much just wants government to do its job and not fuck it up. The American crusade-like political rallying you have before every US elections would just not work in Sweden, since such candidates would be perceived as crazy and unelectable. The current right wing government likely got to power precisely because their leader, Fredrik Reinfeldt, has a fairly calm and down to earth image. That doesn't mean we don't have people screaming at the top of their lungs about immigration and whatnot. They just don't get enough votes to define policy.

    • Re:Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:38PM (#39414819) Homepage

      Well, there's the difference between mostly cashless and completely cashless. My salary is paid direct deposit, pretty much all my bills are paid electronically. I don't really care that the government knows I pay rent and insurance and electricity and broadband and groceries and that I purchase clothes and furniture and computer equipment and whatnot. But if I don't want the government to keep track of how much liquor I drink I can pay in cash at the liquor store. I can pay in cash when I'm out partying all night. Cash is for all those transactions which I don't think it's any of the damn government's business to know about.

      Every so often people come up with the "now 9x% of all trade happens electronically, we should go cashless" but it's meaningless to measure it by volume. At work some 9x% I'm in the presence of coworkers, that doesn't mean I don't want privacy when I make a bathroom break. Same with all the shit people share on Facebook, even for those that share 9x% of their life there the rest matters. Yeah, it's annoying with the black market that doesn't pay taxes, but then put the effort into tracking those who make a living that way instead of taking everyone's privacy away. I don't know if I follow every detail of every paragraph in the tax code and I don't know if anyone could but it's 95%+ correct. And that damn well better be good enough.

    • by DogDude (805747) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @02:01PM (#39416055) Homepage
      Forget the tin foil hat government paranoia. The HUGE problem that most people overlook is that you're handing 3% of all retail sales to Visa/MC. The problem is that this is out of sight and out of mind for 99% of the population that doesn't have a merchant account, and that people don't think that every time they use a card, Visa/MC is getting 2-3%. That's an absurd amount of a country's GNP to pay into one organization for what boils down to a convenience.
    • I don't care what sort of up sides it has. The government being able to track every last penny spent is far too frightening to even consider.

      Even worse -- or at least as bad -- is the $0.80 transaction fee for every such transaction. And the law that says that you cannot recover this fee from the customer. What the hell is a merchant supposed to in that situation? This is The Banks Make Billions Society now.

  • A few years ago (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:47AM (#39414009) Journal
    Finland was even ahead of [vrl-financial-news.com] Denmark and Sweden on this front. Anyone with an up-to-date comparison between different countries?
    • by vipw (228)

      I also wonder about the Netherlands. In many places cash isn't accepted, and you can't even use physical currency in banks.

      • by vlm (69642)

        I've also heard USA banks are the last system to use checks, or paper checks anyway.
        So... what does a bank office do, if it doesn't handle paper checks or coins? Is it more of a sales office for loans and such?

        • "So... what does a bank office do"
          They charge you money to look after your money for you and handle the transfer of that money to others.
          In other words they charge you £10 a month for (I exaggerate here but) a very simple script someone wrote many years ago and a small amount of database space. In return they also get the inconvenience of having your money in their hands.

          In this free market I wonder if I could start my own bank?

    • by myth24601 (893486)

      Finland was even ahead of [vrl-financial-news.com] Denmark and Sweden on this front. Anyone with an up-to-date comparison between different countries?

      It would be interesting to compare the individual US states. The summary says the US has a 7% cash economy, I wonder if some states are higher and some lower.

  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:47AM (#39414011)
    Cashless means dangerous should our electronic web collapse. As long as cash currency is accepted it's always best to keep something on hand. Woe be the day we loose our paper or coin currency completely.
    • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:49AM (#39414039)

      That's why I always carry around a few small gold nuggets in case I need to pick up a bag of rice or a horse or something.

      • by vlm (69642)

        real gold or fools gold? You're better off collecting some govt issued silver and gold coins. A known commodity.
        China issued a pretty cool set of 1/10 ounce animal coins last decade ("year of the rat" etc)
        Back when the dollar was worth more and you could buy a 1/10th oz for something like $40 this was not a huge investment, since the dollar has tanked the same amount of gold costs over $150 now which is getting a little ridiculous.
        I suppose it depends where you live, but safe deposit boxes are usually pret

        • real gold or fools gold?

          There's little difference given a sufficient population of fools. ;-)

        • by Nadaka (224565) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:29PM (#39414659)

          Gold is a terrible currency, the most overvalued material on earth. It has almost no real value. Its only practical use is as a corrosion resistant connector in basic electronics.

          The currency that has had the most steady value in terms of a laborers wage over the last 4 thousand years is beer.

          • by SirWhoopass (108232) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:46PM (#39414967)

            The currency that has had the most steady value in terms of a laborers wage over the last 4 thousand years is beer.

            Beer is difficult to transport (bulky compared to its value) and spoils rather quickly. Distilling it to whiskey is a better option. The Scotch-Irish figured that out a few centuries ago.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by gmhowell (26755)

              The currency that has had the most steady value in terms of a laborers wage over the last 4 thousand years is beer.

              Beer is difficult to transport (bulky compared to its value) and spoils rather quickly. Distilling it to whiskey is a better option. The Scotch-Irish figured that out a few centuries ago.

              And if they could avoid liquidating their profits, they'd be the richest countries on earth.

          • by vlm (69642)

            None of that has anything to do with being a good or terrible currency.

            A good currency is more or less constant quantity, hard to make more on demand. Doesn't tarnish or rot or otherwise disappear over time. Infinitely divisible (unlike, say, seashells or cows). High volumetric value density and high mass value density. Basically the opposite of beer.

            • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @02:04PM (#39416091)

              No, actually, consistent quantity is a big problem for currency because it leads to deflation and you really don't want that, it can hamstring an economy badly.

              Simple example:

              Suppose you and 3 friends decide to create your own little currency of sorts. You have favour tokens. Each time you do a favour for someone, they pay you in a token, and likewise you pay them when you want them to do a favour for you. Makes sure everyone is contributing. So you each start with 2 tokens.

              Things work well, your little economy burgeons as you all do favours for each other and the tokens move around quickly. Other people notice this and want in. So you let them, however new joiners don't get any tokens to start, they have to earn it. Soon you have 8 people. Now there's only one token per person total. So if someone does a favour, someone else is left with no tokens. The economy start to get hamstrung. You have cases where someone wants to do a favour for someone else, but can't because that person has no token and nobody needs a favour from them at the moment.

              Then it grows larger, you get 12 people. Now at best there will be 4 people without tokens at all times, and there can be more. Your economy is stalling in a bad way. People have to wait around until the person who wants them to do a favour can do one for someone else and get a token so they can do their favour.

              Now all this could be solved simply be expanding the amount of currency. If as the economy grew, more currency was added, this problem would be avoided. This might not only happen when new people join, but just when more is being done. You start doing so much for each other that 2 tokens per person just isn't enough, you need more to keep things flowing quickly.

              Money is just something to facilitate trade, no more no less. It needs to do so well and for that, it does need to grow, at least until your economy stops growing.

    • by Zorque (894011)

      Not only that, but what do you do if an emergency (severe weather, flooding, etc) knocks the power out and you need to buy supplies? I don't think debit or credit are very useful in that sort of situation.

      • Shocking I know, but stores can actually still process credit transactions when the phone lines are down. It isn't fun for anyone involved, and some small number of people actually freak out when you go to put their card the the "ka-chunker", but it isn't as if the older way of doing things are completely gone.

    • Cashless means dangerous should our electronic web collapse. As long as cash currency is accepted it's always best to keep something on hand. Woe be the day we loose our paper or coin currency completely.

      What exactly does "Woe be the day" mean?

    • I just plan on trading use of my body for goods and services should the electronic web collapse. Figure someone would be willing to provide monetary equivalence for an electrifying time with a balding mid-thirty-something.

  • Meanwhile... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:47AM (#39414015)

    Visa and MasterCard couldn't be happier.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:49AM (#39414053)

    I never carry it, just by debit cards. An additional benefit is that all your expenses are right there on paper via bank statements so you can evaluate your spending habits. I'd say that 95-99% of the time it's not a problem for my lifestyle, but I do have to hit up an ATM occasionally for the car wash. Now, when it sucks is when you don't realize you'll need cash (cover charge at a door), vending machine snacks, etc.

    I can see it not working for younger people and their more dynamic, partying lifestyles but it works well at the micro level.

    • Huh. The automated car washes in my area all take credit cards. Or I go to the hand wash if the car is due for a good detailing.

      My whole life goes through a single card that gives me points. I get a few hundred dollars a year in free stuff from amazon.

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Myself, and most people I know just carry their debit card and ID around with them, along with $20 cash for incidentals. This works out ok even going to bars, because between two people, $40 will generally pay the cover for a small group of people, and you end up being paid in return with drinks. I'll keep $100 at the house for emergencies, but any place that requires more than $20 for a single transaction will take plastic these days.

    • by harl (84412) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:19PM (#39414493)
      I actually view that as a downside. Why should I pay visa 2-5% of every transaction for the privilege of selling my spending habits to others. Of which I see no profit.
  • by NorthWestFLNative (973147) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:51AM (#39414079) Journal
    Small transactions, power failures, and computer and network outages. Not every business will accept a check.
    • by delt0r (999393)
      Wait 10mins for the power/network to come back online? And does anyone at all accept checks? I don't think any of my banks even issues checkbooks anymore.
      • OK- you've got 1 hour to get money to the bad guys. They're holding your kitty cat hostage for $20 - or Krona - or Simoleans- whatever they use.

        What would you do? A suitcase full of penny coins... OR wire them.... ... oh and the internet is down.

        No cash- your kitty cat gets it.

        If you love cats you'll be against getting rid of currency.

    • by TheSunborn (68004)

      What is the problem with handling small transactions? I don't know about sweeden, but in Denmark a trannsaction will cost you something like 70 øre(14 cent), if it it less then 50 dkk(10$)

      Network/computer outages is a problem, but I think the downtime is something less then an hour each year, so you will just have to wait if you hit that downtime.

      • by TheSunborn (68004)

        Sorry, the above post don't make any sense. That prise is for internet trade. If you buy with your card in a shop using your pin then payment is free because the price(5 cent) is paid by the shop. Which is still cheeper for then shop then handling cash.

        • Here in Brasil, I've heard that the card companies take ~1% of each transaction. So it's common that stores won't accept anything but cash for cigarrettes (as their margin of profit is thin, so they say).

          Also, uptime is a major problem. When I used to go out at saturday nights, systems were always "timing out".

          Still better than carrying money around, if you ask me

    • by nashv (1479253)

      But soon they will. In Germany, public transport, supermarkets, any shops and restaurants will accept a debit card under a uniform debt card system called EC (Electronic Cash).

      The only thing one does need cash is for microtransactions - very small purchases from kiosks or coffee shops (Upto 5 Euro). Low adoption there seems to be primarily because the debt card-pin-receipt printing method is significantly slower than just dropping a euro coin for a beer. However, I believe as the speedier near-field technol

    • by vlm (69642)

      I was recently standing in line at a walgreens (its theoretically a pharmacy but most sale volume is convenience/beauty store items). Windy thunderstorm, power goes out.
      Manager walks thru line, if you have cash you stay in line and pay cashier who is using calculator and flashlight, if not, escorted to door.
      I had cash, bought my stuff.

      Apparently a large enough fraction of the populace to be a "serious" problem, waits until their medication is gone, and that very hour the bottle is empty, they walk from the

  • by CODiNE (27417) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:51AM (#39414087) Homepage

    I agree there are many advantages to a cashless society but one weakness has bothered me for a while. I've personally gone mostly cashless over the last few years and have several times been unable to give anything to a homeless person. At times in the past I've offered food or bought someone a hamburger but there's not always the time or access to nearby vendors, cash is the easiest way to give a little help.

    Also just yesterday I met a kid selling candy bars for his school fundraiser and wasn't able to help out there. It's almost like you have to give them card readers these days.

    • That's what I came here to say. Also, what about trades between friends? If I buy two concert tickets, how does my friend give me the money for them? How would you sell things on Craigslist?

      • Electronic payments work pretty well in most countries. You'd just send your friend your account number and they'd transfer the money.

    • by vlm (69642)

      Also just yesterday I met a kid selling candy bars for his school fundraiser and wasn't able to help out there. It's almost like you have to give them card readers these days.

      My daughter's girl scout troop theoretically only accepts personal checks for their cookies... making it a waste of time to rob one of the girls. Also makes it kind of obvious if a buyer rips the girls off by giving the wrong (low) amount of money. In practice rather than practice, if you insist on handing her cash, I trade my daughter one of my personal checks in exchange for cash, which I guess makes me a money launderer.

      My guess is, that kid asking for cash, probably has to give the cash to his dad in

    • by s73v3r (963317) <s73v3r.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:43PM (#39414901)

      1). A lot of these fundraiser things are outside grocery stores and such. And most places like that will allow you to get cash back after using a debit card.

      2). That's what the Square credit card reader is for.

    • by zzsmirkzz (974536) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:44PM (#39414931)

      I agree there are many advantages to a cashless society but one weakness has bothered me for a while.

      It's not the only weakness. Try paying some kid to mow your lawn, shovel your driveway, dig a ditch without cash. Not to mention the real reasons Citizens want cash (easily accessible, accepted everywhere and untrackable) - so they can loan money, barter/trade goods without tax burden (yard sales, craigslist, etc), gamble/wager or anything else you can imagine.

  • ...or he would be if he were dead.

    FTS: " helps explain why Sweden has less of a problem with graft than countries with a stronger cash culture"

    Sen. Dole takes out ~$10,000 in cash every couple of weeks, and admits is because he doesn't want anyone knowing how or where he spends is money. He even got investigated (briefly, politely) because of suspected money laundering due to his somewhat unusual volume of withdrawals.

    I'm mixed on this. I would never want cash to go away; there are some things I just don't

    • by delt0r (999393)
      There are ways to do electronic cash that is at least as anonymous as real cash. Note that its really hard to be truly anonymous. After all you have to give the cash to someone. Or take it out from somewhere.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:53AM (#39414119)

    Bills and coins represent only 3 percent of Sweden's economy, compared to an average of 9 percent in the eurozone and 7 percent in the U.S

    Sooo... it's more like *everybody* is moving toward a cashless economy, and Sweden is just closest? Um, yay, I guess? Maybe?

    From the title I thought they were moving toward the Star Trek utopia with no money at all, and the economy is based on, um, well, I guess that's in one of the tech manuals somewhere.

  • Brits are using withdrawing money from ATMs more than ever [bbc.co.uk]. Let's face it, with card fees and lack of privacy, cash will never fully go away.

  • What about weed? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheTruthIs (2499862) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:05PM (#39414285)
    How will we buy weed in a cashless society where marijuana is illegal?
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:08PM (#39414317)
    No, it does not explain why they have less trouble with graft. Scandinavian countries had less trouble with graft than Italy or Greece before there was even a concept of a cashless economy. It is a cultural thing. It is even possible that the same cultural factors that led them to have less trouble with graft also contribute to them moving so easily towards a cashless economy.
    • "... The pronounced Swedish inclination to keep order bore strange fruit. A German refugee who stayed in Norway in the 1930s, fled to Sweden when Norway was occupied in 1940. He was arrested in Sweden and the encounter with the police there differed a lot from what he was used to from the Norwegian police. "What I supposed was meant to be a routine series of questions and answers, ended with my being arrested. My declarations did not seem to satisfy the officers. The examination was repeated during the foll
  • you can have this car for 2 blondes a month.

  • by MailtoDelete (863627) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:17PM (#39414453)
    Whenever you hear of someone pushing to get rid of hard currency, they mention the decrease in crime... Yet the numbers here don't show me anything compelling. They show an 85.5% decrease in reported crimes relating to hard currency, and then gloss over a 505% increase in digital monetary crime. That's such a poor point to argue, why even mention it?
    • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:23PM (#39414577)

      That's such a poor point to argue, why even mention it?

      Because there's no legitimate reason for eliminating cash, so they have to make something up.

      If not for patents we would probably be using anonymous digital cash right now, but they delayed the introduction so long that credit cards ended up being the primary means of purchasing online.

    • by chill (34294)

      Are you kidding?

      "Stick 'em up. Bang! Bang! Someone call 911!" versus "Damn, someone spoofed my credit card. I'm out $50. Let me call my bank."

      What part of violent crime is much, much worse than financial crime aren't you understanding?

  • Here in Mexico the banks started to increase the number of debit cards, less people with cash means less robery, but an increase in "fast kidnappings". Basically they kidnap anyone randomly using any vehicle, being a taxi the most usual and in 3-4 hours visiting banks they empty you bank accounts.

  • So I can send someone else money for free? I can accept money for free? etc?

    Without zero cost transactions it's an epic fail.

  • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @12:23PM (#39414565)
    Will still be using cash, even when forced to use a foreign currency or plain gold. Maybe the "official economy" will become cashless, but unless you can make a direct barter deal, some form of currency will still be used to exchange goods or services.

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