Norway Considers Forcing Businesses to Accept Cash

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The Norwegian government is planning a proposal to force businesses in Norway to accept cash payments. Here's what you need to know about the proposal, and why it might be happening.

Anyone living in Norway or who has visited recently will know that the country is on the verge of becoming a cashless society. Many see cash as useless, with some businesses refusing to take it.

Norway cash kroner banknotes

However, that may be about to change. The ministry of justice has sent a proposal out for consultation that would force all Norwegian businesses to accept cash.

An almost cashless society

Most locals in Norway pay for everything with credit cards or digital payment solutions like Apple Pay. The Norwegian app Vipps has proved wildly popular to pay for small items and to share costs among groups of friends.

Some smaller shops have stopped accepting cash altogether. I understand why. Dealing with Norwegian currency as cash adds complexity to a business, adding admin overhead and of course, the risk of robbery.

Even some recent nationwide fundraising initiatives have stopped accepting cash. But there are downsides too. Not everyone is comfortable with digital solutions.

There have been issues with payment systems going down in recent years. And of course, there are issues for tourists who do not have access to all the digital payment systems.

Norway 500 krone banknote.

While the government has watched as the country sped towards digital, it now wants to apply the brakes.

Led by the justice minister Emilie Enger Mehl (Center Party), the minister of justice has proposed to strengthen consumers' rights to pay with cash in Norway.

The government believes that the current law—which does suggest businesses have to accept cash—is vague when it comes to which payment situations the consumer has the right to pay in cash.

The ministry's proposal would strengthen consumers' rights to pay with cash “in all staffed places of business where goods or services are sold.”

Important for national preparedness

The justice minister highlighted the potential for problems when electronic systems are interrupted. This happened the day before Norway's constitution day earlier this year.

Collage of Norwegian money

Consumers stocking up on champagne, beer and food for the big day were forced to use cash in some places, or miss out. Mehl said that experience “showed us that the ability to pay with cash must be preserved.”

Her words are backed by Kim Hamre from the organisation Ja til kontanter (Yes to cash). He said companies not accepting cash are discriminating against the elderly and other people who may struggle with digital solutions.

“Cash is also important in the event of a cyber attack, natural disasters or other events that could knock out digital banking and payment systems,” Hamre said.

A help for tourists

Guaranteeing the right to pay in cash would also be a major win for incoming tourists. While many tourists do rely on their debit and credit cards, it's not always enough.

Some remote attractions that are more popular with Norwegians only accept payment by Vipps. For example, kiosks selling coffee at events or non-staffed parking areas near popular hiking trails.

Chinese mobile payments
Not everyone can or wants to pay with digital solutions.

As helpful as Vipps is to Norwegians, it is not available to visitors because of the requirement to link a Vipps account to a Norwegian bank account.

What happens next?

The hearing process on the proposal runs until 19 December. Its timing surely raises its chances of being adopted.

The country is currently under a raised level of national preparedness given the situation in Ukraine and the political uncertainty involving Russia. As part of this, officials recently urged everyone in Norway to keep some reserves of cash with them, in case of emergency.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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2 thoughts on “Norway Considers Forcing Businesses to Accept Cash”

  1. I an not sure how to give you a private message. In recent postings I have noticed that a few of your spellings, and some syntax, are becoming incorrect.

  2. Darkly amusing to me when I hear of people thinking of going back to something that always worked after a wheel was reinvented.

    1) Digital crimes involving fraud and finance in many places in the world show no tapering off, yet the skills and materials needed to make counterfeit currency are likely extremely hard to find. The relative ease and frequency in electronic theft is amazing, but when was the last time you read about a cash counterfeiting group being imprisoned?

    2) I have read a few news articles and at least one study (I can’t quote them here) showing that there is a more pronounced tendency for individuals to run into financial trouble when living on finances you aren’t intimately involved with. Instant payments, credit sales, debits and other electronic maneuvers lead to a dim awareness of the actual coins available in one’s purse. Being bothered with actually counting and keeping track of your money in a more physical way has been shown to provide more financial awareness and hence less trouble with finances.

    3) Digital transactions build a personal profile, whether you like it or not. Your profile will be bought and sold like a cheap pastry… whether you like it or not. How much invasiveness are you willing to give to people or corrupt governments that have ill intentions? That nonsense is stopped in its tracks with cash payments.

    4) Digital finances can and have been turned off. That means YOU got shut down. You aren’t going out tonight, and you might not be going home if you can’t purchase a ticket for the tram. You might not be able to buy food or pay your heating bill. You’re stuck, my friend. You are now nothing.

    Keep in mind that it just doesn’t matter if you are a good person, with nothing to hide and you’re not a threat. The fact remains uncontested that a reliance on digital currency means: Your life and every personal detail can and is being sold to people, governments or institutions that have nothing good in store for you. Those same people can and will shut you off like a sad lightbulb, but that might not matter for your finances anyway if you are only dimly aware that you have bought 19 cups of coffee this month at 70 NOK each on an account that is being bled dry by incidental purchases you forgot about…

    Stay with cash. Use electronic banking for significant, controlled and infrequent purchases.


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