Sweden’s new government wants a right to pay in cash

Source: Norbert Häring, Geld und mehr, 22/01/2024

22. 01. 2024 | The abolition of cash is not happening, it is being done with the support of governments. If citizens no longer want this and elect or threaten to elect a new government, things can change quite quickly. Following Italy, Austria, Slovakia and Norway, this is now being demonstrated by Sweden, of all countries, the pioneer of cash abolition.

According to a report in the newspaper Tidningen Näringslivet on 12 January 2024 entitled: “You must be able to pay for groceries with cash”, the new conservative Swedish government wants to strengthen the ability to pay with cash so that everyone will be able to buy essential goods in the future.

Finance Minister Niklas Wykman is quoted: “Basically, it’s about ensuring that no one is excluded from the possibility of paying”.

This could be about people who cannot or do not want to pay digitally, but also about ensuring that payments are also possible during crises and wars.

The government is commissioning a special rapporteur to submit proposals for initiatives that can support the ability of private individuals, companies and organisations to pay with cash. The main aim is to strengthen the ability to pay in cash for essential goods such as food, fuel and medicines.

The rapporteur will identify which services and products and in which geographical areas cash plays a particular role, including in crisis situations and war. The report is to be completed by 31 December 2024.

There have been a whole series of such encouraging political U-turns in recent months. In Italy, for example, a new government has raised the cash payment limit from 2,000 to 5,000 euros against the opposition of the EU Commission and ended various other anti-cash measures. Slovakia has enshrined the right to pay in cash in its constitution, and the head of government in Austria has proposed the same. In Norway, the government is currently analysing the results of a consultation on whether the very loophole-ridden obligation to accept cash should be tightened.

The EU is planning a cash limit of 10,000 euros. I assume that existing lower national limits will be allowed to remain in place.

Correction note (23.1.): I have corrected the figure for the increased cash limit in Italy from 2000 to 5000 euros and clarified that the tightening of the cash acceptance requirement in Norway is still under review.

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