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We were sitting in his office—big by American standards, bigger by Swedish—at a table opposite his desk. When we met, Torstendahl had leaned into my handshake as if into a rusting door handle. Now he settled in his chair in the authoritative lounge pose of a senior financier. There was a delicate orchid in every window of the room.


Instead, the five largest jointly own an A. Insisting that every branch also have a vault and a cash-handling teller would be otiose, Torstendahl told me, especially given the sharp decline in cash transactions in the past decade. In the rural north, the de-cashing of bank branches changes daily life.

Locals, especially those with cash-intensive businesses, like shops, now drive great distances to find a bank that serves their needs. Today, fifty-three thousand people in Sweden must travel more than eighteen miles to withdraw cash. Stasis would suit the elderly, too. Some old people are undaunted by cashless ways of doing business. But many struggle to track debt, quail at smartphones, and forget the PIN codes needed for their bank cards. Add to that matters of convenience some toilets require digital payment, and the elderly are often urgent visitors and the phasing out of cash seems, to at least one demographic, premature.

Cash Uprising holds that everybody should be able to get and deposit cash anywhere—the view that Torstendahl and others find so obtrusive. Yet Cash Uprising is not quite fringe. So the Uprising and its surrogates moved on to politicians. In late June, Christina Tallberg handed him a petition, signed by , pensioners, asking the government to safeguard the use of cash.

Bolund had won some political points recently by attending to the cash concerns of asylum seekers. He pushed for a plan that would give them quick access to banking services. I went to visit Bolund one morning, in a governmental office building.

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He led me to a conference table at one end of his office and poured piping-hot black coffee from a carafe. He wore a dark suit with a crimson tie of ribbon thinness, tugged into the smallest knot I had ever seen. Similar systems exist for medication and parcels.


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Bolund wants the banks to consider such an arrangement for cash. For natural reasons! No passage of time is likely to help the unregistered poor. At some point, I started chatting with panhandlers in Stockholm, all of whom were foreigners, off the Swedish books and social programs. A cheery, gray-bearded Bulgarian man named Atanas told me, through a few words of English and some artful hand gestures, that a miscreant had absconded with eighty thousand kronor about ninety-three hundred dollars , leaving him penniless.

An Austrian woman, Sigrid, who was perched on a street corner, knitting, said that her Austrian pension had been locked. Sigrid laughed. She was old and poor, and just the sort of person no one thinks of when imagining a thriving future, so I hoped that she was right. They are tavernlike and multipurpose places. Usually, their customers are under forty-five. These are the places where expatriates gather to feel less foreign, and where locals go to avoid losing touch.

To visit is to feel lost, but also on the verge of being found. One of the newest of these spots in Stockholm is Nomad, halfway up a hilly stretch of road, just past the central station.

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On a Monday evening, I stopped by for a plate of meatballs. Some American guys on the back patio were playing poker. I sat inside, beside three young women clustered around a table over drinks. One, dark-haired and with a nose stud, clutched a packet of tobacco and distractedly rolled a cigarette. Another was a visiting Berliner; the third, a freckled Californian. The Californian was discussing work and money. Right now, we are young. A willowy woman from Bonn wandered in, trailing a guy from Peru who wore a fedora.

The Bonn and Berlin women started speaking German, and the guy in the fedora asked if he could grab a chair from my table.

On the other side of my table, a pair of women, Swedish and Serbian, were playing rummy with two decks of cards, one pale red and the other blue. They got a round of cocktails in coupe glasses and invited me to join them, but it was getting late, and I was almost finished with my meatballs. I asked them whether they often used cash. Usually plastic cards, they said, or else mobile apps. No one uses it anymore. Fredell is a garrulous bald man with glasses and a predilection for snus , the tea-bag-like sachets of tobacco that Swedes place underneath their upper lip to buzz their gums.

SEQR, which now carries out tens of millions of transactions globally each year, purports to do most of the things that can be done with cash. When you download the app on your phone, you link it directly to your bank account, not to an existing card number, as with Apple Pay. Retailers key the transactions with designated QR codes those pixellated, radarlike bar codes at their registers. Is it the hardware, the same phone?

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And do you have the PIN code? But Fredell thinks that concern is passing. Fredell pulled a soggy snus bag from under his lip, swapped it for a new sachet, and suggested that we go shopping. It had rained lightly through the lunch hour, but it was dry now. He took it to the cashier and snapped the QR code on his phone. I thought we were done shopping, but Fredell remembered that he had to buy more snus —I had a hunch that he was always buying more snus —and so we walked to the tobacco counter, and he did the QR-code thing again, this time on a gigantic, ten-cannister column of General snus , which, with gold-foil wrappers, looked like something pillaged from the minibar of a Trump hotel.

On the way to another supermarket, Fredell ate candy and sucked snus and talked about the mobile-payments drug market. He waved a slim card sheath under my nose. The romance of this notion helps account for the success of Swish, the most popular mobile cash-transfer app in Sweden. Swish, a peer-to-peer service like Venmo, launched in December, Less than four years later, it is used by half the Swedish population and by ninety per cent of adults under thirty.

The following day, as their families remained under threat, the managers were instructed to head to work as normal, and told to let the robbers in at the end of business hours. Once they looted the place, the thieves released the families unharmed.

Cold Cash: The Perfect Heist

Many have speculated that the whole thing was the work of the Provisional IRA or Sinn Fein, but as of today the crime remains unsolved. After entering the bank during business hours under the guise of opening a safety deposit box, he and his armed accomplice "subdued" the manager and security guards, freeing them up to let in more accomplices to help bust open as much of the vault as possible. Viccei enjoyed a brief period of freedom by fleeing to South America, only to be intercepted by British authorities and jailed when he came back to visit England in order to retrieve and ship his Ferrari Testarossa.

A gang of 15 robbers hatched and executed the now-legendary plan , which involved rigging the trackside signals to stop the train in a remote location, where the conductor was overpowered and the loot was stolen.

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Unsurprisingly, it's served as the inspiration for a whole crop of films and books since. Then they went to the pub to celebrate. Some six weeks later, The Firm started talking about splitting up the rest of the loot.

Just as the men laid out the goods, along with a smelter for melting down precious metals, police busted in with a battering ram of their own. Taken by total surprise, the men mostly accepted their impending fate. Jones, however, bolted out a back door, gaining only a few yards before being tackled and handcuffed by officers. Reader was apprehended at home. Wood was arrested getting out of his car, and promptly wet himself.