May Norwegian foreigners

When was the last time someone paid cash for him? Wayne Linehan has to think for a moment. "This morning," he says, his first two customers "accidentally" paid with coins and bills. He remembers something like that. Linehan, who was born in Britain, sells cheese at a stand in the center of the Norwegian capital, Oslo. Every day he realizes that it has become quite exotic here to settle a bill in cash. The Norwegians paid "really everything" by credit card - including a piece of Gouda for the equivalent of a few euros. It would be detrimental to business if a small reader for payment cards were not also available at his small stand at the weekly market. "If someone pays in cash, it's mostly foreigners like us," he says and laughs.

Nowhere in Europe do people pick up banknotes less often than in Norway. They only make eleven percent of all payments in cash, according to figures from the Norwegian central bank. In Oslo, Bergen or Trondheim, customers can also pay small amounts at the bakery or in the canteen with a card. Even the doors to public toilets can sometimes only be opened by credit card payment. The obligatory plate with coins in the entrance area has had its day in the north. Paper money is also on the decline in the neighboring countries of Sweden and Denmark.

In Germany, on the other hand, many people are attached to cash. In big cities like Frankfurt there are numerous restaurants where only cash payments are possible. Most customers accept the circumstances, it seems, because otherwise the gastronomy would probably adapt as in Oslo and Stockholm, where on the entrance doors to the bars it says: no cash. The change in payment routines is only slowly taking hold in Germany. Last year, card payments outpaced cash for the first time, measured in terms of sales. As the trading institute EHI calculated, the share of card payments rose to 48.6 percent, while that of cash was 48.3 percent. "In particular, small-value payments of up to five euros will continue to be settled 96 percent of the time and expenses of up to 50 euros for the most part in cash," noted the Bundesbank in its latest study on payment behavior in Germany. In terms of the number of transactions, cash is still the most frequently used payment instrument.

Cash facilitates corruption and favors the black market

The German reluctance to pay by card has many reasons. Many German citizens are afraid of being spied on. The fear of misuse of payment information by the authorities is particularly pronounced among the elderly, not least those who called for a boycott on the occasion of the 1987 census because of the request for personal information. But younger Germans also associate a piece of privacy and security with the banknote. You can track electronic money, but not cash.

The people of Scandinavia are more pragmatic in this regard. They are more likely to accept technical progress and are less likely to rub themselves against data protection problems. As early as the 1990s, a large mobile communications market emerged there at breakneck speed with the companies Ericsson and Nokia as drivers. The cell phone culture is much more mature in the north, which has also strengthened the acceptance of mobile payment. In addition: In the sparsely populated areas of Lapland, the supply of cash by the central banks has meanwhile been very thinned out. Citizens are de facto dependent on card payments. For a long time it has even been possible to pay obolus cashless in churches, in big cities you can see beggars and street artists taking the card. The readers are accordingly cheap, the network coverage, i.e. the infrastructure, is much more efficient in Northern Europe than in Germany.

"The Norwegians have great confidence in political and economic institutions. They believe that a cashless society can better fight money laundering, corruption and the black market. Above all, however, they simply find it more convenient," says Tor W. Andreassen, professor from the Norwegian School of Economics in Bergen.

In Norway, however, cash is not just disappearing from shops and restaurants. Even when money is transferred from private to private (P2P), Norwegians only use cash about every seventh time. In Germany, people collect notes for their colleague's birthday and rummage around coins in order to split the bill at the Italian restaurant with their partner - in Norway people "vip". Out of a good 5.3 million citizens, 3.2 million have downloaded the Vipps app for mobile payment onto their smartphone.

Since 2015 it has also been possible to make cashless payments via Vipps wherever there are no card readers. At the flea market, for example, or in the church: if you want to light a candle for your loved ones in Oslo Cathedral, you don't pay the ten kroner (the equivalent of one euro) by coin, but send a message via Vipps with the amount to the number # 81460. The same works with friends' cell phone numbers, because each phone number is linked to a bank account via the application.

"Norwegians love technologies. If they are available to us, then we also use them," says Berit Svendsen. At Vipps, she is not only responsible for expanding into new markets, but also one of Norway's best-known managers. For years she headed the Norway business at the telecommunications group Telenor before leaving the company after a power struggle. The fact that she then started over with a start-up like Vipps, of all things, says a lot about the importance of cashless technology in the Scandinavian country. DNB, Norway's largest bank, developed Vipps, but customers of more than 100 regional and national banks can now use the app. "This is the only way to reach people," says Svendsen.