Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

Denmark to become the first cashless economy: what about the people?


Denmark is on track to become the world’ first “cash-free nation”. The government is pushing restaurants, stores and gas stations to not accept cash payments. But for the Danes, this is not Denmark’s way. Denmark could very well be the guinea pig of the European Union which would like to see more and more cashless countries…but that experimentation could end up being a disaster for the Danes.

Today about a third of Danish citizens are using Danske Bank’s official app, MobilePay, to pay for services and transactions. The usage of cash has already been greatly reduced in Denmark but it could come to a complete end very soon. For Danske Bank, it is a great opportunity. It means more customers, and less usage of cash also means more banking transactions… and therefore more fees.
But for the Danes, the cash crisis comes as the tipping point of the identity crisis that started around 2000. At the time, the annual congress of the nationalist Danish People’s Party exhorted Danes to defend their currency and their very nationhood ‘For Krone and Fatherland’ screamed giant posters in Copenhagen.
Since then, Denmark has changed, the country known for its fat cows and flaky pastries, neat streets and nice Queen, is today going through an identity crisis and the cash question is dividing the country.
In 2000, it was unconceivable for the Danes to let go one of their national pride: the krone, the national currency for hundreds of years. But today the government is getting rid of its paper version progressively and will completely get rid of cash without having asked the Danish citizen how they really felt about it.
In 2000, the Danes were asked by referendum if they wished to change their money to Euros, and a great majority said no. But today it looks like most of the Danes would say no if they were asked if they want to get rid of the Krone by 2030. So what has changed in 16 years? Globalization and Europeanization. Denmark’s identity seem to slowly disappear along with the usage of cash.
In world history, no country has ever gone cashless, even for a day, even for a joke. Which makes Denmark the one country everyone is looking at if that transition was to work.
The problem for Denmark is that it is very unlikely to function and may just create more inequalities, more social injustices and political divide. If no country had done it before there is a reason, cash is a freedom and for many unprivileged people it is the only access to their basic needs, getting rid of it would exacerbate problems already faced by the Danish society.
But then why doing it? The European Union and the European Central Bank (ECB) appear to have engaged in a war against cash. Getting rid of the 500€ banknote is one of the first steps, one of the first battles that was fought by the pro-cash resistance as the ECB claimed that it was the ‘best way to fight terrorism and tax evasion’.
But beyond that smoke screen, big banks and online payment companies seem to have a great role to play and have managed to influence European policymakers, danish ones especially. Getting rid of cash would benefit them greatly and starting with Denmark could be for them a way to apply their conception of what a world should look like to other countries.

A world without cash means a world where banks and government have all power. They control your money and you have no say in it because you just don’t have the choice. It might sound a lot like conspiracy theory but it could very well happen to us by 2030.

Just like the frog that you put in a pot of cold water and that you start heating up slowly until it boils, the Danes seem to have really few options to jump out of the european pot and they might just be boiling by the time they realize that getting rid of cash wasn’t the best idea for them.

Today this project is creating vigorous debates and is making the political power in place more fragile. The conservative parties are rising up and they aren’t completely ready to get rid of cash. But this crisis transcends political boundaries and the main issue for the Danes seem to be that the decision was made at the top without a care for the krone’s first users: the people.

Groups are being formed to protest against the disappearance of cash but they are afraid that the powers are now controlling Denmark as a string puppet, and that the Krone’s death, on paper or on coins, is imminent.