The restrictions introduced during the pandemic and unease over the spread of infection have affected purchase and payment behaviour in Sweden. At the start of the pandemic, consumption fell drastically, not least within the travel and entertainment sectors. When consumption falls heavily, so too does the number of payments. The fact that many people chose to stay at home and shop online instead of in physical shops is also important for the means of payment used.
Use of the payment application Swish has seen a relative increase during the pandemic. The greatest increase has been among elderly people (see Many people make payments by mobile telephone, for example with Swish). The number of contactless payments has also increased in conjunction with the limit for such payments being raised from 200 kronor to 400 kronor in April. Contactless payments have existed in Sweden since 2015 and involve the customer paying by card or mobile application using a digital wallet where card details have been registered. In Sweden, almost 60 per cent of card payments are contactless. This is an increase from 42 per cent in January. Contactless payments are used most in the non-durable goods segment and at restaurants and bars, where no less than 73 per cent of card payments are contactless.
Cash usage in Sweden also seems to have fallen during the pandemic. This is partly due to cash primarily being used in physical shops, cafés and restaurants, where activity decreased heavily at the start of the pandemic. In addition, cash is used more by elderly people, who have presumably stayed at home more during the pandemic. But it may also be an effect of many banks, shops and restaurants having chosen to refuse cash. Even if it is too early to draw any conclusions, there are many indications that once consumers have become used to digital solutions, this may have more permanent effects.