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“Swish is down” – or when Ingmar Bergman saved the day

“It must have gotten some kind of virus,” says the toy merchant, gesturing puzzled towards the payment terminal. Stone dead it is, so while the birthday present for my sister’s two-year-old is being wrapped, I stand in the winding ATM line in the square outside. The people ahead of me fumble unaccustomedly with buttons and menus and I have time to reflect on the fact that very few people seem to be in need of cash this Saturday morning.

I look fascinated at the notes being printed. Ingmar Bergman. Realizes that I’ve never held a two-hundred krone note before and gets a little dizzy. Account cards with blipp and Swish have dominated my transactions out in society for several years and I have never really given this fact a thought.

Two minutes later. “Swish is down,” I say helpfully to the stressed-out father of a toddler ahead of me in the flower shop. “Again,” I add, somewhat ironically. The father quickly turns around. In vain he has tried to scan the qr code stuck on the counter with his mobile phone in order to pay for a bunch of red roses. He looks at me confused, processes the information for a while and then lets out a “yeah”, after which he apologetically asks to come back in half an hour or so.

Report: Time to cut up the credit card? This is how you pay the pub bill and the TV purchase in ten years

After another two minutes, I’m standing behind another father, this time at the Press Agency. For some reason he chooses to pay with cash instead of card – probably because his princess-dressed daughter got something from the same toy store I was just in. Now he’s going to get rid of the leftover notes and treats them like he never had them cash before.

“It was so long ago,” he says guiltily, as much to me as to the patient cashier. I hum in agreement and flex a residual Ingmar Bergman back at him.

Since the small morning apocalypse occurred at the end of May, I have thought about the date several times March 24, 2023. Then the breaking point is assumed to occur when it is no longer profitable for the stores to accept cash. It’s not even four years away.

In Sweden, votes are regularly raised for the preservation of cash as a means of payment. The issue is complex and socially disruptive, and raises important issues regarding security, banking influence and how to teach children and young people to appreciate the value of something they cannot see or touch. A kind of digital exclusion can also be argued for – many, many have not been brought up according to the cashless doctrine.

For the moment, I content myself with stating that the general level of preparation needs to be polished somewhat before March 24, 2023. Until then, I keep my third and last Ingmar Bergman in my pocket. You never know.

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