Swedish Lawmakers Want To Force Banks To Stick With Cash

Stockholm Sweden Global Tech Center

Swedish lawmakers are trying to slow down the nation’s move toward going entirely cashless by forcing the country’s largest banks to offer cash withdrawals and handle daily receipts.

According to Bloomberg, Parliament’s Riksbank committee is in the process of reviewing the law, which would apply to banks that offer checking accounts and have more than 70 billion kronor ($8 billion) in deposits from the public. The lawmakers added that there needs to be “reasonable access to those services in all of Sweden,” and that 99 percent of Swedes should have a maximum distance of 25 kilometers (16 miles) to the nearest cash withdrawal.

Sweden has fast become one of the most cashless societies in the world, which is seen as a potential problem for citizens without access to mobile phones or bank cards. In addition, there is worry about what would happen if the digital payments systems suddenly crashed.

“We believe that the continued development of access to cash in society needs to take place in a controlled manner so that the public’s and society’s need for cash is fulfilled,” the committee said in an op-ed in Dagens Nyheter.

Riksbank Governor Stefan Ingves has expressed concerns that the lack of cash may cause serious issues during a crisis situation.

“The large banks have a special responsibility for the access to cash in society,” since they are central as providers of payments and credit, according to the committee. “It’s, therefore, not reasonable that they can completely renounce the responsibility to handle cash, especially against the background that it’s a legal means of payment.”

However, the Swedish Bankers’ Association say the proposed law violates European Union sate aid and competition laws by forcing just a few banks to supply cash.

Hans Lindberg, the association’s director general, said, “To introduce a legal requirement where a few banks will be forced to manage cash supply in the country is legally very doubtful, as the same requirement isn’t placed on the other banks and other companies in the cash handling chain, such as retailers and cash-in-transit companies.”