Norway’s Biggest Bank DNB Calls for the Total End of Cash

DNB, the largest bank in Norway, has called for the country to stop using cash.

Photo: Sindre Ellingsen/Flickr

Photo: Sindre Ellingsen/Flickr

DNB has recently proposed to stop using cash as a means of payment in the country. According to the DNB bank’s executive Trond Bentestuen, more than half of all cash transfers in the country are made without the banks’ control, and so could be used for illegal purposes.

“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.”

“There are so many dangers and disadvantages associated with cash, we have concluded that it should be phased out,” he added.

That is the latest move in Norway that has been leading the global change toward electronic money in recent years. Bentestuen estimated that about 6 percent of Norwegians use cash on a daily basis, with the numbers higher among elderly people.

“Eighty-five percent of our customers say that they never or only very rarely go to the bank. Therefore, we think it is a mistake to maintain a very old structure with local branch offices. It is better to follow the customers and improve the offers where the customers are: digital,” he said.

Nordea, another Norway’s largest bank, 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 being able to get cash via banks ATMs.

“The whole of society is going in this direction. The other banks will follow – it’s just a matter of time,” said Åse Dahl, manager of the Nordea bank branch at Oslo Central Station.

In 2014, Finans Norge, a financial industry organization in Norway, said the country was on pace to be a cashless society by 2020. While DNB said its proposal will take time to complete, executives suggested the country start phasing out cash by discontinuing the 1,000 kroner note so it could focus on updating its banking system.

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. Other critics have raised concerns about privacy issues as well as how the change would affect tourists. Privacy advocates in Norway have expressed worries for years that, without cash, there would be no way for an individual to purchase something without being tracked.

“There are many, including the elderly, who still want to use cash and that must be allowed. Moreover, it isn’t unproblematic for privacy to make every transaction traceable,” stated Finance Ministry spokesman Tore Vamraak.

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