Denmark and Sweden are on the way to becoming Cashless Societies in coming years. In another post this blog addressed recent news in Denmark, where they are considering legislation that would allow select benefits to refuse cash payments.
Now, Sweden has taken another step to make cash less of a necessity and more of a burden. Their banks are making it harder for Swedes to hold onto cash.
The Sverige Riksbank, Sweden's central bank, recently decided to keep its benchmark interest rate at -0.35%. The banks they lend to actually lose out by holding onto the money. Retail banks have not yet imposed negative interest rates, but they might. The cost of that negative interest lending has to be soaked up or passed on to businesses and individuals.
Swedish retail banks are encouraging people to move away from cash in other ways. Swedish banks have also started to remove cash ATMs in rural areas. If people aren't using much cash, they must not need the ATMs. This move roughly corresponds with a drop in the amount of cash in circulation.
A Business Insider article reports that the value of paper Kronor in circulation has dropped, from about 100 billion in 2009 to around 80 billion in 2014.
In a relatively cash-free Sweden citizens will have to either spend money or let the bank take it, in the form of negative interest. They'll likely spend their money, electronically, spurring economic growth.
In short, Sweden is using less and less cash in an environment. Negative interest rates are a reality for banks and a real possibility for businesses and individuals.