Sweden on the verge of yet another technological revolution

Technological innovations and novelty are no longer a surprise to any of us. In this rapidly digitizing world, we come across new technologies and ideas on a daily basis. From thousands of useful and brilliant startups to new radical solutions, digital technology is shifting the way we live and experience our daily lives. Can you recall going to a bank branch in order to perform a financial operation? Probably not, just like the rest of us. The past decade has been game-changing for the industry and the process continues as we dive deeper into the world of digital technology.  

Sweden is the front-runner in developing digital solutions in practically all spheres. This Nordic nation is considered one of the most developed in the world with an astonishing GDP per capita rate. Moreover, Sweden is also known for its very high Human Development Index (HDI), highlighting how well-developed the country really is. Therefore, innovation and novelty are relatively easily accepted in Sweden, in comparison to other countries even in the Nordic region of Europe. 

In general, Swedes have a very liberal approach to almost all matters. Thanks to soft regulations and a free market economy, the country has managed to gain enormous financial assets. The national financial industry has been benefiting from international institutions present in Stockholm for decades now. In recent years, it also became one of the first countries in the world to completely legalize forex trading within the nation, incentivizing a growing list of forex brokers in Sweden. Due to the strong national currency and a steadily growing economy, this sector is expected to bring in even more profits throughout the years to come. But why are forex trading or financial industry, in general, so successfully utilized in Sweden?

The answer is the country’s love affair with digital technology. Once again, we should note that Swedes accept novelty particularly easily. They have high trust in Swedish companies, organizations, and governmental institutions. This is the prime reason why companies using personal data have managed to become rather popular across this nation. On the other hand, countries like Germany and the United Kingdom are more likely to have distrust in startups and software asking for personal data. 

Ever since the growth of the fintech sector within the financial industry, Swedes have pioneered the process of shifting from primarily cash-based to an almost completely cashless society. As a result, today, Sweden is dubbed the name of the first cashless nation on earth. Only 1 in 4 Swedes use cash occasionally throughout a one-week period. This means that 75% of people use digital payment methods only. 

With the ever-growing demand for more convenient solutions for payments and digital passes, the country is pushing the boundaries of innovation further than ever before. Last year Swedes made international headlines as thousands of people queued up to insert chips into under their skins. 

According to the representatives of the company that designed the microchips, the aim of the technology is to speed up the daily lives of average Swedes. The main use of them will be to unlock doors, pay for different services, and substitute various cards and NFC payment methods that we carry around on a daily basis. 

One tiny chip, the size of rice can get you into common working areas, your own apartment. The Swedish financial network is even thinking of implementing a wider acceptance across the country. ATMs and payment machines will be able to recognize and accept microchips, practically eliminating the need for a plastic card or an NFC device. The procedure is extremely simple and painless, costing up to $180. After the announcement of the possibility, companies offering microchips received an overwhelming number of clients, queuing up for their devices. 

Amongst thousands of Swedes that have already purchased the microchip, Biohax International is the company that has performed the biggest number of procedures so far. The company was started by a person with at a glance an irrelevant profession. Jowan Osterlund is a formed Swedish body piercer who decided to change his career path to something drastically different. He said “Having different cards and tokens verifying your identity to a bunch of different systems just doesn’t make sense. Using a chip means that the hyper-connected surroundings that you live in every day can be streamlined. It’s just completely passive, it has no energy source or anything. So when you tap it against a reader, the chip sends back an ID that tells the reader which chip it is,”

But why has it become so popular in Sweden whilst other countries are still falling behind? The prime reason is that Swedes trust their government and companies much more than anyone else. Therefore, there is no concern about sharing private information with third parties. Rather, especially after the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Swedes have trusted the government a lot. 

Despite lots of benefits offered by the microchip, there are concerns regarding privacy if the chip starts storing information about our health and physical conditions. A South Sweden-based UK scientist Ben Libberton commented on the novelty: “Because it’s implanted in your body when more health-related information starts being used and incorporated into the chip and being transmitted — that could create an extra layer of privacy that we really need to look at and take care of before it’s widely used,” 

Will microchips ever make another global tech revolution? That is still unclear considering how controversial the idea is. However, we can already see that the idea that has been around for decades is being implemented quite successfully and the widespread use of this technology might be closer than we might think.