One bright afternoon last week Jorge Samuel, 28, walked the glistening floor of a mall in Gothenburge, Sweden. Flouncing before turning the corner of a snack joint, keeping to the left on the hall way, he headed for the toilet area. This former teacher had a coin in his hand to pay for the service.
On the wall of the swanky cubicle was a greeting, “Cashfree toilet”. It meant the coin he held in his hand would be of no use. Although confused, he managed it with his smartphone, paying the charge. This British tourist just forgot the fact that he was in Sweden, not in a shopping mall in East London, where his house was, where they still depend on old-world ways.
Sweden is on its way to become the world’s total cash-free nation in a few years. Cash payments have dwindled to a great proportion falling from about ‘40 per cent in 2010 to about 15 per cent in 2016’ according to Sweden’s central bank, reports The Guardian. Nearly two-thirds of consumers get along without having to dive in their pockets for money every time. They use cards to buy things.More than half the nation’s bank branches no longer take or issue cash, the report says. Get in the shops here, you will see signboards everywhere announcing ‘we no longer accept hard currency’. Experts are of the view that Sweden in near future will be a cashless economy. One where nobody any more walk around with a purse, stuffed with paper money and coins.
Recently Swedish central bank has said as much. In order to make payments, people turn to an app Swish. Launched in 2012, this app enables to send or receive payments. Only people have to connect their mobile phones to their bank account. More than 60 per cent of the Swedes, amounting to 6.2 million, use Swish—another 10,000 join the app each month. Sweden may be at the helm of the change. But most countries are not far behind. Perhaps, countries like India and China are fast adapting to cashless transactions. In 2010 India launched what it calls Immediate Payment Services (IMPS). This transaction facility offers 24-hour×7 services. IMPS wants customers to use their mobile phones as a means for accessing their bank accounts and carry out transactions like money transfer securely. Remember there are over 900 million mobile users in India. It is only matter of time before people start using this service. In Sub-Saharan Africa only a fraction of the population entered in financial systems including maintaining a bank account. With mobile phone rage, people have started using all possibilities of the gadget including banking transactions, reports say. With Asia and Africa in the lead, Europe and Americas can’t fall behind.
Remember humanity is on the cusp of major change. In the beginning it was barter system. What we used then was cowry shells as money. They were a kind of sea snails with translucent appearance. Later from 1000 BCE, figures like small knives and spades in bronze represented money. Over time, gold and silver coins entered, before Song Dynasty in China introduced paper money in 11th century. Wonder where we stand today?