More than 4,000 Swedes have implanted microchips in their hands, allowing them to pay for rail travel and food, or enter keyless offices, with a wave.
Just a few years ago, there were a couple of hundred of people in Sweden using human implantable microchips. The a thousand, then a few thousand, and now Sweden leads the world in microchip purchases. Cash in Sweden now accounts for only 1% of all transactions, and a full 50% of all Swedish banks will not accept cash deposits.
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:” Revelation 13:16 (KJV)
Two events are taking place simultaneously. First, with or without implantable microchips cash is rapidly disappearing. Debit cards and mobile device purchasing apps are seeing to that. Second, the microchip is not coming, it is here. The Android or iPhone you are reading this article on has a microchip inside it, and you take that chip everywhere you go. Within 18 months to 3 years from now, many of you will personally know people who have been chipped and pay for purchases that way.
So maybe you think Sweden and all that stuff is too far away to worry about, right? Wrong. People are being chipped right now in places like rural Wisconsin.
In Sweden, cash is almost extinct and people implant microchips in their hands to pay for things
FROM THE FINANCIAL POST: Few countries have been moving toward a cashless society as fast as Sweden. But cash is being squeezed out so quickly — with half the nation’s retailers predicting they will stop accepting bills before 2025 — that the government is recalculating the societal costs of a cash-free future.
The financial authorities, who once embraced the trend, are asking banks to keep peddling notes and coins until the government can figure out what going cash-free means for young and old consumers. The central bank, which predicts cash may fade from Sweden, is testing a digital currency — an e-krona — to keep firm control of the money supply. Lawmakers are exploring the fate of online payments and bank accounts if an electrical grid fails or servers are thwarted by power failures, hackers or even war.
“When you are where we are, it would be wrong to sit back with our arms crossed, doing nothing, and then just take note of the fact that cash has disappeared,” said Stefan Ingves, governor of Sweden’s central bank, known as the Riksbank. “You can’t turn back time, but you do have to find a way to deal with change.”
ASK MOST PEOPLE IN SWEDEN HOW OFTEN THEY PAY WITH CASH AND THE ANSWER IS “ALMOST NEVER.” A FIFTH OF SWEDES, IN A COUNTRY OF 10 MILLION PEOPLE, DO NOT USE AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINES ANYMORE. MORE THAN 4,000 SWEDES HAVE IMPLANTED MICROCHIPS IN THEIR HANDS, ALLOWING THEM TO PAY FOR RAIL TRAVEL AND FOOD, OR ENTER KEYLESS OFFICES, WITH A WAVE. RESTAURANTS, BUSES, PARKING LOTS AND EVEN PAY TOILETS DEPEND ON CLICKS RATHER THAN CASH.
Consumer groups say the shift leaves many retirees — a third of all Swedes are 55 or older — as well as some immigrants and people with disabilities at a disadvantage. They cannot easily gain access to electronic means for some goods and transactions, and rely on banks and their customer service. And the progress toward a cashless society could upend the state’s centuries-old role as sovereign guarantor. If cash disappears, commercial banks would wield greater control.
“We need to pause and think about whether this is good or bad, and not just sit back and let it happen,” said Mats Dillén, the head of a Swedish Parliament committee studying the matter. “If cash disappears, that would be a big change, with major implications for society and the economy.”
Urban consumers worldwide are increasingly paying with apps and plastic. In China and in other Asian countries rife with young smartphone users, mobile payments are routine. In Europe, about one in five people say they rarely carry money. In Belgium, Denmark and Norway, debit and credit card use has hit record highs.
But Sweden — and particularly its young people — is at the vanguard. Bills and coins represent just 1 per cent of the economy, compared with 10 per cent in Europe and 8 per cent in the United States. About one in 10 consumers paid for something in cash this year, down from 40 per cent in 2010. Most merchants in Sweden still accept notes and coins, but their ranks are thinning.
Among 18-to-24-year-olds, the numbers are startling: Up to 95 per cent of their purchases are with a debit card or a smartphone app called Swish, a payment system set up by Sweden’s biggest banks. READ MORE