Lisa håller upp två sedlar Foto: Nichol von Schoenberg / Sveriges radio
File photo: Nichol von Schoenberg / Sveriges radio Credit: File photo: Nichol von Schoenberg / Swedish Radio.

Will cash payments soon be history in Sweden?

"Maybe I lose some customers, but not for 300,000 kronor"
2:41 min

Södermalm is known as one of Stockholm's hippest districts and many businesses here try to be original. One coffee shop stands out for its payment policy: cash only.

Johan Sörman is a co-owner at the Kaffe coffee shop. He says people try to pay by card all the time. That comes as no surprise, as Sweden is leading the way towards a cashless society.

Cash only represents 2 percent of Sweden's GDP, compared to almost 10 percent in 1990. According to the Swedish Central Bank, cash payments have been decreasing for many years, but its experts believe that bills and coins will not disappear in Sweden anytime soon.

In Sörman's case, he and his business partners have decided to go against the trend for financial reasons.

"It costs too much money to have these cash machines. The last time I counted, it was 300,000 kronor a year," Sörman tells Radio Sweden.

He admits that their cash-only policy might have a negative effect too, but he still thinks it's worth it.

"Maybe I lose some customers, but not for 300,000 kronor, no," he says.

Also, Sörman argues that the money he and his partners save by not using credit cards allows them to have lower prices.

Karin, one of Kaffe's many regulars, confirms this and adds that the staff have more time to give good service as they do not have to waste it on credit card payments.

"The prices are really modest here. And he has time for service. He appreciates that and I think we all do. That's why we come here," she says.

But she admits that having to go to the closest ATM, a three-minute walk away, can be a little annoying.

"I've ended up at the cash machines many times here. It is a bit of a hassle," she explains.

Not too far from Kaffe, also in Södermalm, many of the restaurants in a new food court at the Ringen mall, have decided to take the opposite approach. AA Raamen, for example, accepts no cash.

Johan Magrioteli, one of its managers, explains that they don't want cash for hygienic reasons, as the same people work in the kitchen and the counter.

"Money brings all the bacteria and then we work with the food and then we go back to the customer again," Magrioteli says.

According to Magrioteli, most customers who want to pay cash usually don't mind paying with a card instead. He remembers one case where a customer only had cash, but they found a solution.

"He just had cash and wanted to eat, but then we took the cash and payed  with our own cards. So if any conflicts like that occur, we can always solve it," he explains.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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