Björn Eriksson, ex-Interpol chief, ignites controversy with his crusade against Sweden’s cashless society model – a cautionary tale for Britain?
In a contentious move, Björn Eriksson, former president of Interpol and chairman of the Swedish campaign group, has ignited a debate with his stern warning to the UK: resist the allure of a cashless society. Eriksson, who launched Kontantupproret (Cash Rebellion) in 2015, champions the coexistence of cash and digital payments, citing concerns about societal exclusion and security vulnerabilities.
The stark decline in cash usage in Sweden, where only 8% of transactions are now conducted with cash (down from 39% in 2010), stands as a stark contrast to Britain’s 14%, but the trajectory is worryingly similar. As UK Finance data reveals, Britain is not far from emulating Sweden’s digital-only path.
The vanishing of banks from high streets – 5,753 closures since 2015 – and a growing trend of ‘cards only’ establishments across the UK echo the Swedish experience where many banks have ceased cash handling, and cash payments in shops are increasingly cumbersome.
Eriksson’s campaign has brought to light the disadvantages faced by those dependent on cash: pensioners, small businesses, people in rural areas with poor internet coverage, and individuals in vulnerable situations, like women fleeing abuse or refugees. His movement challenges the notion that digital transactions are a universal panacea, arguing for the necessity of cash as a safeguard against technological failures and as a bulwark of privacy.
The Swedish pushback against a cashless society, Eriksson believes, is indicative of a broader, European-wide discord between the establishment and ordinary citizens. He warns of a growing divide, where the convenience for the majority could lead to exclusion and inequality for a significant minority.
Further, Eriksson raises the alarm over potential national security risks in an all-digital economy, especially in the face of threats from actors like Vladimir Putin. The vulnerability of digital infrastructures to sabotage or cyberattacks could leave nations like Sweden, and potentially the UK, in precarious situations.
The implications of a cashless society extend beyond convenience and efficiency. Eriksson’s cautionary stance highlights the need for a more nuanced approach, balancing the benefits of digital transactions with the inclusivity and security that cash provides. As the UK observes Sweden’s digital dilemma, the question remains: should it heed Eriksson’s warning, or march inexorably towards a cashless future? Story Source