A leading financial association in Norway recently suggested that the country could very well be on track to becoming cashless by the year 2020.
The group noted that only about five percent of transactions conducted in the country are done so with cash, and suggests that eliminating paper money would likely pose no harmful effects to the economy.
“Cash now represents such a small proportion of payments in the society, that we could well do without it,” a statement read on the Finans Norge website earlier this week.
The organization represents 200 financial institutions that are currently operating in Norwegian borders. Additional statistics cited indicated that there was an 8.6 percent growth in credit/debit card usage in the first half of 2014 alone.
Norwegians have been withdrawing less and less cash from ATM machines during that same time period, as well, bringing Finans Norge to state that “it costs society a lot to handle cash.”
A cashless society could mean a reduction in finance-related crimes like money laundering and robberies, the financial group added.
Critics, on the other hand, insist that citizens ought to have a right to financial privacy, in that financial transactions conducted via payment cards and other forms are recorded in some form and accessible. These critics also aren’t buying that electronic payments would bring financial crime under control.
“We also think it is naive to believe that crime disappears by removing cash,” said Mr. Guri Melby of the Venstre (Liberal) party to Norway’s ‘News in English‘ site. “We already see today that crime is moving to new areas. There is just as much fraud of bank cards and electronic payment methods, and we also see new payment methods, like for example Bitcoin, pop up.”
“The opportunity for crime and fraud does not depend on what type of payment methods we have in society,” he added.
Datatilsynet, Norway’s Data Protection Authority, agrees with Melby, stating that people should be able to conduct their business without any sort of digital trace being left behind.
And while it’s abundantly clear that Norwegians are becoming increasingly distanced from paper money, could bitcoin find an opportunity to act as a cash replacement?
It could very well be a possibility, and while bitcoin in its basic form isn’t anonymous, it is pseudonymous — allowing for some level of privacy protection. Even more so with privacy-centric tools available to community members today.
The story is much the same around the world, which should certainly make for interesting developments in the cryptocurrency sector in the years ahead.