Payments in Sweden 2020

Why are people in Sweden no longer using cash?

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Cash is disappearing faster in Sweden than in other countries

Published: 29 October 2020

Change in the nominal cash volume

Countries with the lowest percentage increase of cash in circulation between 2009 and 2019.

Figure: Change in the nominal cash volume

The countries in the diagram consist of a sample of 219 countries. Download the data from the diagram by clicking on the arrow to the right, above the diagram. Source: Armelius, H, Claussen, CA and Reslow, A (2020). “Withering cash: Is Sweden ahead of the curve of just special?” Sveriges Riksbank Working Paper Series No 393

More and more people in Sweden are abandoning cash (see Cash is losing ground) and the volume of cash in circulation has fallen heavily over the last ten years. Compared with other countries, developments in Sweden stick out. Apart from Norway, where the decrease in the volume of cash in circulation is half as large as in Sweden, the volume of cash has increased in all other countries. Why has cash decreased so much in Sweden?

The development in Sweden cannot be explained by traditional causes. Usually, the volume of cash increases with higher GDP and countries with high interest rates and young populations usually have relatively smaller cash volumes. Over the last ten years, Sweden’s GDP has grown while the level of interest rates has fallen. At the same time, the age composition of the population has remained largely unchanged. So, if anything, this should mean rising cash volumes.