Created: March 22nd, 2018
Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter and Square, has recently announced that Bitcoin will replace the existing currencies in the next 10 years. The advent of cryptocurrencies and contactless payments is accelerating the wipeout of physical notes and coins. In fact, the future without cash is coming faster than we thought. Our team found an interesting article about the Swedish government who tries to replace their physical currency to the digital one named e-Krona by 2023. This article made us to delve into the new landscape - what will happen when the cash is disappeared in our daily life in 10 years?
Our team envisioned the day when the Swedish government declares the end of Krona and designed a mobile memorial site for retrieving physical Krona and commemorating the last day of physical cash.
We believe that Sweden is one of the first group of countries in the world to declare national cashless day by the year 2028, at that point, all kind of transactions happening within the country will be done digitally. We envision that the government will celebrate their one of the most remarkable milestones in their history and promote e-Krona to its citizens. This memorial for cash is a mobile interactive train that runs all around the nation and collects old money from the citizens of Sweden.
The monument is hosted in an emptied train to retrieve old Krona across countries. Each car represents the memorial site for death of cash, reactions from the different EU member countries, and smooth transition from the conventional currency system to the adoption of the digital currency. Eventually, the monument will celebrate their revolutionary transition.
Sweden is the most cashless society on the planet, with barely 1% of the value of all payments made using coins or notes last year. Across the country, cash is now used in less than 20% of transactions in stores - half the number five years ago, according to the Riksbank, Sweden's central bank. Portable technologies have enabled market traders to take card payments easily. Swish, a smartphone payment system, is another popular Swedish innovation used by more than half the country's 10 million-strong population.
“Prof Arvidsson predicts that the use of cash will most likely be reduced to ‘a very marginal payment form’ by 2020.”
Back at Stockholm's Royal Institute of Technology, Prof Arvidsson points out that while most Swedes have embraced the nation's cash-free innovations, two-thirds don't want to get rid of notes and coins completely. "There's a very strong emotional connection to cash among Swedes, even though they do not use it," he says. And this is one of the reasons why the Sweden government is commissioning this memorial.
Backcasting from The Last Day of Cash
During the class, we 'backcasted' the series of events that would have might be happened between now and 2028 when we believe that the physical cash will be wiped out. Starting from the advent of universal digital currency, we imagined that there will be a gradual transition including 1) introduction of the digital cash as the second official currency, 2) Conversing physical cash to the digital one by the government, 3) the official declaration of the end of using physical cash and 4) the worldwide unification of the digital currency.
At the end of the exercise, we discussed the feasibility of our scenario and we all agreed that the universal digital currency wouldn't emerge in 10 years. So, we decided to limit the scope to one specific country and envisioned how its experimental movement would be celebrated as a propaganda.
We first designed an interactive memorial space for the young children in Sweden, who would most likely never seen the physical Krona by then. Our first idea is to educate them about the history of different types of cash and how to use it. However, we abolished the first idea because it's mostly about the past history.
Going back to our backcasting brainstorming, we decided to focus more on the moment of the last day of cash and how the Swedish government might promote e-Krona to its citizens. That the Swedish government actually generates energy by burning damaged cash inspired us to design a train that runs by burning cash. In the year 2028, the government will operate the train that retrieves cash across the nation for 6 months and celebrates their monetary revolution through their interactive memorial space. The museum consists of three exhibition spaces - one for the media archive of transition from the physical Krona to e-Krona, the another for listening to the opinions from other countries, and the last one for converting old money to e-Krona and throwing the old money to the incinerator.
Drawing The Experience Map
In the next step, we drew an experience map including the floor plan of the exhibition space and the interaction touch points. We imagine that the visitor will catch the train in the station and walk through the three cars that show all different theme. The train is designed for all Swedish citizens who need to exchange their old Krona to e-Krona.
The first and the second section are designed as reactive exhibition spaces, where it activates when the visitor enters the car. The third one is for more practical purpose - the visitor can activate the real-time statistics by depositing e-Krona from the ATM near the entrance. Finally, they will leave the train after putting old cash into the incinerator.
For the prototyping, we built the scale model of a three-car train and embedded interactive circuits and sensors below the cars. For more realistic look, we printed miniature paper cash of Krona and put them on the acrylic cabinets.
For the interaction part, we used RFID tags/readers and photocells for activating the space. We put the readers underneath the floor and put the tag below the feet of our human figure. So once the visitor is in, they will activate the liquid crystal panels (1st car), neo pixels & audio records (2nd car), and the pico projector (3rd car).
Reflect on the process of making this project. What did you learn? What would you do differently?