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In Sweden Cash Is King No More, should we worry?

STOCKHOLM — Sweden was the first European country to introduce bank notes in 1661. Now it’s come farther than most on the path toward getting rid of them. “I can’t see why we should be printing bank notes at all anymore,” says Bjoern Ulvaeus, former member of 1970’s pop group ABBA, and a vocal proponent for a world without cash. The contours of such a society are starting to take shape in this high-tech nation, frustrating those who prefer coins and bills over digital money.

In most Swedish cities, public buses don’t accept cash; tickets are prepaid or purchased with a cell phone text message. A small but growing number of businesses only take cards, and some bank offices – which make money on electronic transactions – have stopped handling cash altogether. “There are towns where it isn’t at all possible anymore to enter a bank and use cash,” complains Curt Persson, chairman of Sweden’s National Pensioners’ Organization.

He says that’s a problem for elderly people in rural areas who don’t have credit cards or don’t know how to use them to withdraw cash. The decline of cash is noticeable even in houses of worship, like the Carl Gustaf Church in Karlshamn, southern Sweden, where Vicar Johan Tyrberg recently installed a card reader to make it easier for worshippers to make offerings. “People came up to me several times and said they didn’t have cash but would still like to donate money,” Tyrberg says. Bills and coins represent only 3 percent of Sweden’s economy, compared to an average of 9 percent in the eurozone and 7 percent in the U.S., according to the Bank for International Settlements, an umbrella organization for the world’s central banks.Three percent is still too much if you ask Ulvaeus.

A cashless society may seem like an odd cause for someone who made a fortune on “Money, Money, Money” and other ABBA hits, but for Ulvaeus it’s a matter of security. After his son was robbed for the third time he started advocating a faster transition to a fully digital economy, if only to make life harder for thieves. “If there were no cash, what would they do?” says Ulvaeus, 66. The Swedish Bankers’ Association says the shrinkage of the cash economy is already making an impact in crime statistics. The number of bank robberies in Sweden plunged from 110 in 2008 to 16 in 2011 – the lowest level since it started keeping records 30 years ago. It says robberies of security transports are also down. “Less cash in circulation makes things safer, both for the staff that handle cash, but also of course for the public,” says Par Karlsson, a security expert at the organization. The prevalence of electronic transactions – and the digital trail they generate – also helps explain why Sweden has less of a problem with graft than countries with a stronger cash culture, such as Italy or Greece, says economics professor Friedrich Schneider of the Johannes Kepler University in Austria. “If people use more cards, they are less involved in shadow economy activities,” says Schneider, an expert on underground economies.

In Italy – where cash has been a common means of avoiding value-added tax and hiding profits from the taxman – Prime Minister Mario Monti in December put forward measures to limit cash transactions to payments under (EURO)1,000 ($1,300), down from (EURO)2,500 before. The flip side is the risk of cybercrimes. According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention the number of computerized fraud cases, including skimming, surged to nearly 20,000 in 2011 from 3,304 in 2000.

Oscar Swartz, the founder of Sweden’s first Internet provider, Banhof, says a digital economy also raises privacy issues because of the electronic trail of transactions. He supports the idea of phasing out cash, but says other anonymous payment methods need to be introduced instead. “One should be able to send money and donate money to different organizations without being traced every time,” he says. It’s no surprise that Sweden and other Nordic countries are at the forefront of this development, given their emphasis on technology and innovation.

For the second year in a row, Sweden ranked first in the Global Information Technology Report released at the World Economic Forum in January. The Economist Intelligence Unit also put Sweden top of its latest digital economy rankings, in 2010. Both rankings measure how far countries have come in integrating information and communication technologies in their economies. Internet startups in Sweden and elsewhere are now hard at work developing payment and banking services for smartphones. Swedish company iZettel has developed a device for small traders, similar to Square in the U.S., that plugs into the back of an iPhone to make it work like a credit card terminal. Sweden’s biggest banks are expected to launch a joint service later this year that allows customers to transfer money between each other’s accounts in real-time with their cell phones.

Most experts don’t expect cash to disappear anytime soon, but that its proportion of the economy will continue to decline as such payment options become available. Before retiring as deputy governor of Sweden’s central bank, Lars Nyberg said last year that cash will survive “like the crocodile, even though it may be forced to see its habitat gradually cut back.”

Andrea Wramfelt, whose bowling alley in the southern city of Landskrona stopped accepting cash in 2010, makes a bolder prediction: She believes coins and notes will cease to exist in Sweden within 20 years. “Personally I think this is what people should expect in the future,” she says. But there are pockets of resistance. Hanna Celik, whose family owns a newspaper kiosk in a Stockholm shopping mall, says the digital economy is all about banks seeking bigger earnings. Celik says he gets charged about 5 Swedish kronor ($0.80) for every credit card transaction, and a law passed by the Swedish Parliament prevents him from passing on that charge to consumers. “That stinks,” he says. “For them (the banks), this is a very good way to earn a lot of money, that’s what it’s all about. They make huge profits.”

Things I worry about when it comes to a cashless society:

1. How will customers put money in the tip jar if you perform well, artists wont always be able to do a credit card transaction with a tipper at a show, so no tip will be put in tip jar.

2. If you lose your credit rating you wont qualify for a credit card therefore you will not be able to buy anything with your cash if you have any.

3. If you want to give a homeless person some money, who may even be you soon in a cashless society, how will you be able to give him some money as a homeless person cannot take credit cards.

4. When you trade in cash the banks make no money, is it really just another business plan, to make sure the banks make money on every money transaction that takes place on this earth.

5. So maybe the cashless soceity can be linked to the Bible’s prophecy of the mark of the beast as we will have to have a chip either on a card or placed under our skin to survive in the new cashless world.

I am  really not qualified to even write about this, but as an average Joe I see trouble coming if America follows the Swedish example.  For America is luckily for now still the leader of the free world and as long as America does not follow suit we should still be OK. To me it seems that it is all about whats best for the banks and if the banks rule the world they will eventually succeed in their quest.

Small Business: Self Employed vs Business Owner

I have lived in Norway for almost 3 years. I am ashamed to say that I speak Norwegian almost as well as I speak Klingon.

There are three questions that every Norwegian asks in that first conversation.

Viking: “How do you like Norway?”
Me: “I think it is a wonderful country but I am still struggling with the snow in winter.”Viking: “How long have you been here?”
Me: “Almost 3 years.”
Viking: “But you don’t speak any Norwegian?” (Which is code for “How do you earn a living or are you living off my tax payments??”
Me: “I am a consultant on the Internet helping small business owners in English-speaking countries around the world. I speak English 12 hours each day, so there is not much time to learn Norsk.” (I throw that last word in to show them that I am not totally clueless.”)

The talking ends shortly after. Norwegians have little concept of self-employment. Having an income that follows one from country to country is utterly foreign, like the Finnish. And, I suspect, the concept of any sane person living in Thor’s own country because he actually wants to, beggars understanding. I no longer even mention the white sand in Durban, because they start to get grumpy, as if the big five should be enough for any one country..

I don’t have a business so much as a ‘self-employment’. We tend to confuse the two terms. Business means stature. Self-employment has all the status of a Trabant. It is easy to fail in business. 96% of us do, at least once. We have looked at some of that fallout in the past few emails.

But, self-employment, that is a different mammal altogether. Self-employment harks back to medieval craftsmen moving from town to town. The Internet, of course, means that each ‘town’ on earth sits in an Apple on the desk on my bedroom. One doesn’t ‘close’ self-employment. Rather it ends as one migrates from earthly worm to heavenly butterfly.

I closed a business in 1992. In hindsight it was never ‘my’ business. The banks and the government always had first dibs at any money that came in, followed by the staff. And since I was always more interested in the techie stuff than the money, there was never a lot of money left.

After closing, I just wanted to earn enough to enjoy life, to be able to do some interesting stuff, and to live wherever chance (or maybe a wonderful woman) might take me. My dreams came from an insightful book called “The Sovereign Individual“.

And so I slid into this zero-status form of business structure known as self-employment. Even government is not interested. They want you to employ real people, not yourself. (I think that there is no finer recommendation for any structure.)

Self-employment has very few constraints. Self-employment is something you can do in the haven of your bedroom, in your pajamas. (While on sick leave, if you really, really want to.) And my focus for the next few years was on setting up an income infrastructure that could work anywhere.

My first test into Australia was fun, but a dismal failure portability-wise. The Web wasn’t yet up to the task. (At least, that’s how I comfort myself because it was a very costly test.)

A few years later came the UK, and this was much better. At least, until some dastard stole my pass-port in Cape Town. The UK government decided that stolen documents meant that I must never have had them, and took so long to renew them that I knew it was time to leave. And so it was that the family ended up in Mrs Carruthers’ home town. This move was seamless. I had, so to speak, become a shadow of my former self.

But you can’t do this with a ‘real’ business. It is not portable. The moment it is within the governments radar, the admin load rockets. Even burying the corpse costs a chunk, and involves paper, lawyers, accountants, and courts. We self-employed simply sidle away. In our pajamas.

A few years ago I started sharing these ideas and skills with a few people who were happy to pay more money than I thought I was worth. I extended this into a new community – Global Warriors. And then, the techie demon took over and I got lost in the excitement of Google marketing. As we taught each step, we automated it. This became Marketing Motor, a great way to do marketing online, but not quite what a bunch of folk had signed up for.

I am going to fix that by offering a twelve month mentorship in an unusual way. Why?To transfer everything I know about earning an income online to you, by this time next year. There are no sacred cows, and we will discuss each aspect in enough depth for you to be confident that you can take it on. It’s all common sense when you see through the hype.

The pace will be comfortable, but over the year we will cover more than you can imagine.

The plan is, over the space of a year, to take just two hours out of your week, on a Tuesday evening, and to transfer everything that I know to you. By the end of the year you will be in the space where you know everything that you need to be able to earn enough income to survive online, and live in Johannesburg or Cape Town or Knysna, or Edinburgh, or Perth, or Oslo.

If you want to know more, please join me here at 8pm SA Time, Tuesday evening, March 27. In order to work through this program with me you will need reasonable speed internet (better than 300K), either Windows or Mac, and the ability to laugh a lot.

All the best

Peter Carruthers

Judy Welden Shares News For The World To Read

Wow.. this has turned out to be an especially loooonnnnggg newsletter! It had to be though as I’ve chosen to write about 5 very talented folks who needed to be spotlighted this time. But as I write above.. please feel free to skim it and just read what interests you!
It’s been a busy, exciting two months, not the least of which was watching my granddaughter, Angie Zeiderman, on American Idol. I originally planned to spotlight her in the Jan 15th newsletter, but Idol was starting on TV in 3 days and we were not permitted to tell anything at that time. Was so thrilled to see her later when they televised the Aspen CO (where she first auditioned), Hollywood & Vegas auditions. They had promised her that she’d be prominently shown… and she surely was!!
Also am anxious to see Angie next month when I visit her parents, Amy & Gary Wayne in Boca Raton, FL as well as my son, Glenn Atwell (whom I’d written about last issue) in Lehigh Acres, FL. Will end up the trip seeing my singer friend, Charlotte Guntkowski (Port St. Lucie, FL), with whom I’d been in bands while living there 10 years ago. Oh, almost forgot… trip is starting out with a 2-day cruise to the Bahamas (Celebration ship) that we purchased at an incredibly low price!!
I was surprised to learn I’m back to being #1 again in two genres at when I went there recently to add my latest single releases. You might recall that I was #1 there for 16 months (Rascal Flatts was #2).. then for a year I was #2 with them being #1. Well, I’m back to being #1. Very incredible; however I do have thousands of fans at that site and nearly 2 1/2 million plays or downloads! You can hear my latest single releases there.
Really am pleased that February’s single (YOUR HAND PRINT ON MY HEART) is still doing so well (was #6 in the TOP 50 GLOBAL CHART). To keep up the momentum, it and March’s duet with Ray Lani (THANK HEAVEN FOR EMAIL) will continue to be promoted during April and perhaps even beyond. So many DJs think that Ray’s and my duets are just me singing, not always putting Ray’s name on their playlists. Thanks to those of you who do add his name (it’s really important in order that he gets counted for the charts). DJ Tom Kawai, who reports to STS, took the time to delete the song from his playlist that just had my name, then immediately add it again with Ray’s name included. Thanks so much, dear DJ Tom!!
All the musicians and producers did a wonderful job on the two singles. Gary Farmer produced the tracks, playing rhythm instruments, including keyboards; Chris Truelove produced the vocals and Phil York did the final mastering for YOUR HAND PRINT ON MY HEART! Two of them are being spotlighted in this issue and one will spotlighted in a future one.
Also being spotlighted this time are my two co-writers of THANK HEAVEN FOR EMAIL. The idea came from my cousin, Vesta Weber who’d never written a song before and did an incredible job. When I lived in FL, I led a songwriter group and never have I known anyone who did so very well in their first attempt at songwriting! Vesta has written her own story and writes more about how these lyrics came about that we co-wrote. Ray Lani (also being spotlighted) and his son, Ray Jr. on drums, did a great job on the tracks with Ray’s catchy country swing tune that has a touch of the blues in it. Gary Farmer did a fine job on keyboards and Chris Truelove blended my vocals well with Ray’s (especially with me being in GA and Ray in NY!) and mastered the song. Everyone can relate to this song and I hope you’ll take a listen .. or better yet, watch the cool videos Tonya Williams made of this song and the other new one as well as the CD jackets for both, are shown below in this issue. Tonya does wonderful, affordable work
DJs who cannot accept MP3 files can download these songs at Airplay Direct: Just check out WHP‘s two latest compilations there.
Thanks to my promoter friend, Rhon Scheuerman, who co-wrote YOUR HAND PRINT (ON MY HEART;There wasn’t room to spotlight her this time but wanted to thank her for her part in writing the great lyrics we co-wrote for not only Valentine’s Day but to be a great love song for the rest of the year.
Thanks also to all the DJs who have been playing my recent releases:
Let’s Make America Great Again & Shop Till I Drop, both co-written with Rhonnie Scheuerman, & Heaven Backs Me Up, & The Rest Is Up to God, co-written with Ray Lani, as well older releases. You are ALL greatly appreciated!! A few I’d like to mention here are DJ Jerry Mac who plays 5 or more of my songs on his 24 hour shows many days of the week. Also DJ Bev Whamsley, who always plays one of my songs on her shows and sometimes 2 or 3!
This just came in I was ready to send the newsletter .. have been behind with my email, but so happy I caught this one before sending as it’s very important. My friend, promoter and co-writer, Rhonnie Scheuerman writes a weekly column called “Inspiration Station” for WHISNews21 online. The one today was about what our country is going through at this time and why she and I co-wrote LET’S MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. Frans Maritz, the owner of the station & website, added the video that he made for the song last fall. The lyrics are there beneath the video.. so I hope you take the time to see this as it will give you hope in these troubled times! Song was #8 on the TOP 50 GLOBAL CHART last Nov. It has been heard around the world and we hope it continues to be heard. In her column today….
Rhon Scheuerman writes: “Dear Inspiration Stationers, Bob and I read newspapers & watch TV and all that is going on with candidates running for election for President of the USA. & we are very happy that Judy Welden and I co-wrote “LET’S MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”….. We love our country, The USA, and want it to thrive and be led by God-fearing, committed people, and at the top a man that makes it his priority to bring it back to where it should be. Many people are suffering with the economic situation, with folks losing their homes, gas prices steadily climbing, others losing jobs and not able to find new ones. For our children and grandchildren we want the BEST for the country they live in, and for their future. Please listen to the words we wrote for “LET’S MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”….Listen to Judy bringing her heart into the singing of this important song. WE CARE! Thank you and we hope that this song will in some small way inspire you to not give up on our Great Country, “THE UNITED STATES OF OUR AMERICA”!
See ya next time!
Judy ♪♫

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