Both are Swedish. Both are named Björn and born in 1945. Both are passionate about the same topic… at opposing ends of the spectrum.
Björn Ulvaeus, former member of the Swedish pop group ABBA, is adamantly against cash. He considers it “unmodern”, a tool of predilection for criminals and claims not using it since 2011.
Björn Eriksson, on the other hand, former president of Interpol and former Swedish police commissioner is the pro-cash voice of Sweden and leader of Kontantupproret – Sweden’s Cash Uprising. Eriksson believes that the push for a cashless society is only making payments more opaque to the benefit of banks. Even economist, Niklas Arvidsson, from Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology states, “It’s clear that banks have a business incentive to reduce the use of cash”.
The number of bank robberies in Sweden might have decreased by 70% in the decade preceding 2014, yet cashless society advocates often fail to mention that, as robberies have gone down, other more disconcerting crimes have skyrocketed. Cases of fraud, mostly related to identity theft, have more than doubled in the past few years – and this data includes only reported cases. Banks don’t report data breaches or fraudulent behavior, stating that it’s for their customer’s security.
Ulvaeus’ recently opened ABBA museum is fully cashless and a growing number of Swedes are making use of Swish – a person-to-person payment app system developed by Swedish bank – but Eriksson’s efforts haven’t been in vain: the Swedish Parliament could vote to require banks to provide cash services this September.
It remains to see which Björn’s passion will supersede – unless the extremes of the spectrum finally meet and create an environment where they both coexist.
To read the original WIRED article, please click here.