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A turning point in the Nordics

By Camilla Bäck Hindfelt, Head of Marketing Comms (Nordics & Baltics) • Visa Europe

August 30, 2016

The cashless race is very close – which country is to become the first cashless society? Some are sprinting faster than others, and the top three bets are Norway, Sweden and Denmark, all three of whom have less than 20% of all transactions settled in cash. Compared to the European average of 70%, the Nordics definitely have a head start.

Aside from paying by card, people from the Nordics like travelling

According to a study conducted by TNS Sifo on behalf of Visa in May 2016, 32% of Swedes, almost 50% of Danes, and as many as 58% of Norwegians had plans to travel during the summer this year. Europe is the destination of choice for most, with as many as 90% of travellers headed towards sunnier latitudes of our home continent this summer season.

Since Scandinavians travel on such large scale, inhabitants of the North have developed some distinct travelling habits – Like the importance we place on the planning phase of the trip….

Oddly, at this point we forget that we’re leading the cashless race and that ATMs and card acceptance exists in the rest of the world as well. It’s a peculiar tradition that goes back decades: We go on a pilgrimage to the bureau de change and the airport ATMs and we take out billions in cash in foreign currency. Literally, billions. Together, Swedes, Danes and Norwegians have a total of 1.27 billion Kroner of foreign cash hidden in their drawers from previous trips abroad.

At a turning point

However, we’re starting to see a turning point in this old-fashioned Nordic behaviour. Around 70% across the three countries stated that they will pay primarily with card on their holiday this year, and the same share admit they pay more often with card when travelling today, than they did five years ago. Quite surprisingly the senior age group, above the age of 60, are the ones keenest on using their card abroad!

So next time when it’s time to pack our bags, we are in a great position of bringing our remaining cashless habits – so maybe we’ll have cards instead of cash in our carry ons when we go on holiday next summer.

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