by Ron Delnevo, Executive Director, ATM Industry Association Europe Chapter
Riksbank — the Swedish National Bank — last week called on the government to take action to improve public access to convenient means for the deposit and withdrawal of cash.
I applaud this courageous step by Riksbank.
It's been so easy in Sweden to buy into the hype of those vested interests seeking to create a so-called "cashless society." Of course, there never will be any truly cashless society.
There will always be many people who prefer to use a physical form of cash. However, with the number of bank branches in Sweden decreasing each year and with many of those left having no provision for the convenient deposit and withdrawal of cash, there is no doubt that a high percentage of the Swedish public were being forced to look away from cash in order to make payments.
It is important to remember that when surveyed two years ago, more than half of all Swedes said they believed being able to make payments in cash should be an inalienable human right.
In other words, they expected to be able to use cash.
Now, thanks to Riksbank, it looks as though the public will be getting their way.
I would like here to pay tribute to the pro-cash movement in Sweden. "Cash Uproar," lead by the charismatic and brilliant Bjorn Eriksson, has been pushing back against the powerful anti-cash vested interests for years.
Bjorn and his supporters have nobly fought to safeguard the rights of the Swedish public. No praise is too high for the superb work they have done.
I would also like to thank Riksbank for being open to persuasion regarding the folly of Sweden's apparent headlong rush towards cashlessness.
I met with Riksbank in January to highlight the serious problems associated with the lack of access to cash in Sweden. I was also able to identify some possible solutions.
I was very impressed with Riksbank's willingness to listen and even more impressed that they readily conceded that they had their own concerns.
If only all Central Banks were as well-attuned to the needs of the public as to those of commercial interests who seek to gain the advantage by removing cash as a payment choice.
Of course, much remains to be done. The Swedish government must now take appropriate action to ensure that the issues identified by Riksbank are dealt with quickly.
Every community in Sweden needs convenient access to deposit and withdrawal facilities for cash — both notes and coins.
So the work goes on, with every supporter of cash now re-energized by the knowledge that a statement from Riksbank has turned the tide against those who seek to create a cashless society, and in favor of those who really matter — the Swedish public.photo istock