Paying for goods and services with your smartphone is fast becoming common practice across Norway.
Bank branches are a less common sight across Norway these days as more and more people use their mobile phone to manage their finances. Norwegian residents have long preferred making payments with credit and debit cards over cash transactions, and now mobile payments are starting to take off. It now appears only a matter of time until Norway's society – for residents at least – is entirely cashless.
For foreigners living here this can take some getting used to, so here's some information to help you on your way.
First and foremost, all Norwegian banks offer excellent online banking functionality and mobile apps. DNB's mobile app is available in English and allows you to check your balance and basic information about your last five transactions without even logging in.
Their English language online banking system allows you to make or schedule domestic and international payments, although for certain advanced functions (such as starting a loan application), you need to login in Norwegian.
Mobile payments to friends
Splitting the bill in a restaurant is commonplace in Norway (due to the high prices, I assume!) but over the past year the process has been made much more efficient with the introduction of mobile payment apps. Each backed by a major bank, the apps allow simple peer-to-peer payments of small amounts, so one person can settle the bill with everyone else sending their share via the apps.
The MobilePay (Danske Bank), Vipps (DNB) and mCASH (Sparebank 1) apps are linked to your debit card and bank account, allowing for easy transactions. Money is deposited in the recipients bank account typically the same day, although it does depend on what bank they use. You don't need to bank with the owners of the app to use it, so I (and most people I know) have at least MobilePay and Vipps installed.
The success of these apps depends on them reaching critical mass as soon as possible, for a recipient needs to have the app installed and setup to receive the money. However, that doesn't seem to have been a problem. Certainly not for DNB's Vipps, which has hovered around the top of the app download charts since its launch last year.
DNB took more than inspiration from the success of Danske Bank’s MobilePay, which is used regularly by more than three million Danish residents. The Danish bank has since launched the app in Norway.
Paying in stores
The next step for mobile payments is to facilitate payment in-store. Over the past few months, each company has rushed to sign up the major retail chains. MobilePay can be used in all branches of Rema 1000, while mCASH can be used in Burger King and some branches of Bunnpris. Vipps is lagging behind in this respect, although they expect to announce similar functionality later this year.
The payment process is relatively simple. You just tell the cashier you want to pay with the app and after they tap the relevant button, you use the app to scan the QR code on the cash register. Check the correct amount appears on your screen, swipe to confirm and you're done. Simples!
Paying for parking
The mobile payments revolution goes further than paying for your groceries though. In Trondheim, residents have paid for parking with their mobile phones for some time now. Using the SmartPark app, drivers can pay for parking in most public parking spaces around the city. The advantages are obvious: No searching for loose change, receipt by email, and an alert to your smartphone when your e-ticket is approaching expiry.