Payments in Sweden 2019

Cash use in constant decline

Download PDF

Why are we no longer using cash?

Published: 7 November 2019

More and more Swedes no longer use cash. In 2010, 39 per cent of the respondents in the Riksbank’s survey on payment habits in Sweden said that they paid for their most recent purchase in cash. In 2018, this figure had fallen to 13 per cent. At the same time, almost 40 per cent said that they had not used cash in the last month.

Some shops, restaurants, cafés and other companies in the services industry have stopped accepting cash. For example, almost 20 per cent of shops in the durable goods segment now no longer accept cash, according to the Swedish Trade Federation. In the non-durable goods segment, almost all traders, 98 per cent, still accept cash.

Figure: Traders in non-durable goods accept cash more often than traders in durable goods

Traders in non-durable goods accept cash more often than traders in durable goods. The figure shows that two per cent of traders in non-durable goods did not accept cash in April 2019. At the same time, 18 per cent of traders in durable goods did not accept cash. (Click on the explanations under the diagram to show or hide one or more series.) Source: Swedish Trade Federation.

The decline in cash use is in part due to our changing purchasing habits and our use of new payment services. Swedes shop more frequently online where it is not possible to pay in cash. At the same time, new technology and new payment services are also making it easier to pay electronically in physical shops and in the services industry.

The declining cash use is making it expensive for the private market to provide cash to the whole country and could affect the flows of cash. In some places where market players no longer offer services for cash withdrawal and the depositing of daily takings, the state, via the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority and the county administrative boards, is providing economic support to “payment service agents”. There are currently 38 payment service agents who have support from the county administrative boards, an increase since 2014, when there were 20 of them. Most counties in Sweden have one or more payment service agents.