In 1661, Stockholms Banco, the precursor to the Swedish central bank, issued Europe’s first banknotes, on thick watermarked paper bearing the bank’s seal and eight handwritten signatures. Last year – as Britain did last week – Sweden launched a new series of notes, cheery affairs featuring 20th-century Swedish cultural giants such as Astrid Lindgren, the creator of Pippi Longstocking, Greta Garbo and filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.
But like its Nordic neighbours Norway, Denmark and Finland, Sweden is fast becoming an almost entirely cashless society. “I don’t use cash any more, for anything,” said Louise Henriksson, 26, a teaching assistant. “You just don’t need it. Shops don’t want it; lots of banks don’t even have it. Even for a candy bar or a paper, you use a card or phone.” FULL REPORT