Norway’s largest bank DNB proposes to stop using cash as a means of payment in the country.
According to the DNB bank’s executive Trond Bentestuen, more that half of all cash transfers in the country are made without the banks’ control, and so could be used for illegal purposes. He commented to local news media outlet VG.no:
“Today, there is approximately 50 billion kroner in circulation and [the country’s central bank] Norges Bank can only account for 40 percent of its use. That means that 60 percent of money usage is outside of any control. We believe that is due to under-the-table money and laundering.”
Norway has already became one of the leading countries to propose using electronic money. Several banks have already refused to accept or offer cash transactions in their branches all over the country.
Sweden and Denmark to become cashless
The widespread adoption of mobile payment solutions and bankcards turned out to be more popular among Swedes than old-fashioned cash payments. A study by the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm has shown that Sweden may become the world’s first cashless country.
Niklas Arvidsson, an industrial technology and management researcher at KTH, commented that now of all Swedish crowns in circulation, “only somewhere between 40 and 60 percent is actually in regular circulation”.
Moreover, Bengt Nilervall from the Swedish Federation of Trade explained that moving to a cashless society is safer and saves money. He adds:
“So Swedes feel confident paying electronically.”
The Chamber of Commerce of Denmark has also proposed to allow most retailers (except for essential services like hospitals, post offices, etc.) to make all money transactions electronically and ban cash. Moreover, the Danish government has “set a 2030 deadline to completely do away with paper money.”
Norwegian banks refuse to work with cash
Another of Norway’s largest banks, Nordea, has also refused to accept cash in November 2015. It left only one branch in Oslo Central Station to continue handling cash, thus enabling customers to still be able to get cash via banks ATMs.
Åse Dahl, manager of the Nordea bank branch at Oslo Central Station, said:
“The whole of society is going in this direction. The other banks will follow – it’s just a matter of time.”
However, to date, the Finance Ministry of Norway has no plans to change its laws, at least for now, as there are still many people, including the elderly, who still want to use cash.
Is this a chance for Bitcoin?
It is. However, as Norway is not an EU country, the local legal approach towards Bitcoin differs from most neighbour countries that follow the decision of European Court of Justice that Bitcoin ‘be exempted from VAT’.
In 2014 some local banks were closing bank accounts of Bitcoin-related companies, like Länsförsäkringar that said they did not want any customers using Bitcoin or Nordea that closed the accounts of Bitcoinbolag. Also Bitcoin exchange into the local Norwegian krone (NOR) is subject to a 25% VAT.
Nevertheless, Denmark and Sweden are EU countries. Also in May 2015, the Tax Authority of Sweden published guidelines for assessing Income Tax on Bitcoin mining. The guidelines state that the only prohibited activity that includes the usage of Bitcoins in the buying and selling of scrap metal.