Why Travelers Should Be Excited About Sweden’s Idea for Digital Money
Sweden’s Central Bank announced on Wednesday that it is researching the possibility of introducing a digital currency.
“The declining use of cash in Sweden means that this is more of a burning issue for us than for most other central banks,” Sweden’s deputy governor of Riksbank, Cecilia Skingsley, said in a statement. “Although it may appear simple at first glance to issue e-krona, this is something entirely new for a central bank and there is no precedent to follow.”
The digital currency would not replace a physical Swedish krona, but act as its complement. Riksbank said that it would continue producing a physical currency as long as there was demand for it in Sweden.
But the e-Krona, were it introduced, could eliminate currency exchange woes for travelers. Travelers would be able to purchase foreign currency before they leave home and take it with them. It could mean the end of making a trip to the bank pre-trip or finding a currency exchange in the airport.
“Compared with those ancient money exchange kiosks, it's actually easier and less costly to exchange fiat currency for digital currencies, through regulated exchanges online,” David Berger, CEO of Digital Currency Council, told Travel + Leisure. “It's not just theoretical. It's being done by travelers every day.”
Bitcoin is probably the most popular digital currency among some high tech travelers. It’s possible to pay for flights, hotels and even activities or tours abroad with Bitcoin. It eliminates any wonky conversion mental math (if you know the exact value of your Bitcoin).
One man even went on a trip around the world, paying for everything solely with Bitcoin. His journey took one full calendar year. In that time he visited 14 countries. He paraglided through Turkey, paid for a pasta lunch in the Czech Republic and retrieved local currency from ATMs—all with Bitcoin
“A decentralized digital currency future promises to eventually offer a much faster, cheaper, more transparent, more frictionless money system for everyone. That said, it'll take time to get there,” Berger told T+L. “Things like Apple Pay will make more of an impact in the next two years, but bitcoin and decentralized digital currencies will be by far the bigger deal over the next 20.”