Space & Innovation

Sweden Ditches Cash Payments

Swedes are creating a cashless society as secure electronic payment technologies explode. Continue reading →

Physical money is going the way of the fax machine in Sweden. The country's sophisticated digital payment technologies are leading to a completely cashless society.

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Cash is so taboo now that banks are hauling off old ATMs, several branches don't even have any on the premesis, and trying to pay with physical money is seen as just plain wrong. Kids get allowances added to their cards, and churches collect donations digitally. Use too much cash and bank staffers call the cops.

It all comes down to tech. Stockholm's KTH Royal Institute of Technology credits the mobile payment system Swish with helping the country shift away from physical kroner. Swish is a direct payment app used for person-to-person transactions in real time that began in 2011 as a collaboration among Danish and Swedish banks. It's revolutionizing the Swedish banking system, KTH researcher Niklas Arvidsson said in a press release.

He also predicts that Sweden will be completely cash-free in 15 years. If that pace seems slow, well, there are some kroner in circulation that would need to come out.

Swedes are humming about virtual money, money, money for safety reasons as well. Björn Ulvaeus of Abba fame began advocating for a cash-free Sweden after his son was robbed, the Guardian reported. (Don't bother trying to pay with physical kroner at Abba: The Museum.) Buses stopped accepting cash, too, after a bunch of drivers were robbed.

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Payment Card Industry measures that make paying virtually more secure helped Swedes grow comfortable using cards for just about everything, including low-cost items. Sounds like a pleasant perk to living in a country that regularly tops quality of life lists. But it's worth pointing out that this banking shift is tough for the elderly, rural residents, the homeless, and undocumented immigrants.

Stateside cash still rules. Look how far a $20 bill can go. Even coins, which I've started to loathe for their bulky weight, have a place in the realm of laundry, cheap candy, and donation jars. And, although digital payments have grown, we're not becoming a cashless society any time soon. Somebody's gotta tip the bartender.

Mark Zuckerberg

May 15, 2012 --

Happy birthday, Mark Zuckberg. The Facebook founder and chief executive officer turned 28-years-old Monday. It's a big week for Zuckerberg, whose company is primed to launch the most anticipated IPO of the year -- a move which could value Facebook at nearly $100 billion. The average S&P 500 CEO in America is twice Zuckerberg's age, according to the Associated Press. Zuckerberg is at the forefront of a new generation of young, tech-minded CEOs who have found their fortunes and major successes as other 20-somethings are still getting their feet wet in their chosen careers. Here we take a look at other young, notable entrepreneurs whose success came well before their first gray hair.

David Karp At age 25, Tumblr founder David Karp created a fast-growing international social media, blogging platform. Using money he acquired as a software consultant, Karp began Tumblr in 2007, when other blogging platform had already been widely available. As Karp mentioned in an interview the TechCrunch, Karp saw an opportunity to create a medium for digital postings that were more substantial than a tweet but less verbose than a full blog post. Tumblr has since taken off among users, and Karp has since built a fortune for himself, with an estimated $40 million in funding.

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Gurbaksh Chahal No one could ever accuse Gurbaksh Chahal of being an underachiever. By the time he reached 25 years old, Chahal, now 29, had already successfully founded and sold two companies, the first of which he began at age 16. Chahal even became a millionaire the same year he legally became an adult. And he wasn't done yet. Chahal currently is at the helm of RadiumOne, an online advertising company that "harnesses social interaction data to fuel new audience expansion." His net worth is upwards of $100 million.

Matt Mullenweg Anybody who's ever read, written or commented on a blog has probably at some point run into Wordpress co-founder Matt Mullenweg's handiwork. The now 28-year-old Mullenweg helped start Wordpress in 2003 and dedicated himself full-time to the platform beginning in 2005. According to VentureBeat, WordPress today is behind around 15 percent of the highest-trafficked site on the Internet. Mullenberg today has a net worth of around $40 million.

Naveen Selvadurai Foursquare's Naveen Selvadurai probably wasn't looking to make a fortune when he and co-founder Dennis Crowley devised the social GPS-tracking site. Instead, he intended to use it simply to explore New York City. Founded in 2009, Foursquare now supports some 20 million users. Selvadurai at 28 has also amassed a fortune estimated to be around $80 million.

Andrew Mason At 31, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason might seem like a senior relative to other entries in this slideshow, but Mason's success derives from a company he helped found in his late 20s. In November 2008, Groupon launched as a means of connecting urban residents to local merchants. The site began by offering users the ability to collectively buy into a discount from a local merchant in the Chicago area. The business model took off, leading Groupon to expand beyond Chicago and spawning a number of copycats. Groupon's seemingly overnight success led it to become one of the fastest company's in history to reach the billion-dollar valuation mark, thanks in no small part to Mason's contribution.

Pete Cashmore At age 26, entrepreneur Pete Cashmore has an estimated net worth of $80 million. Cashmore amassed his fortune by making a name for himself with a website that follows the kinds of products created by these other entrepreneurs on this list: Mashable.com. Started in 2005 when Cashmore was a teenager living in Scotland, Mashable.com is now among the highest-trafficked blogs online and Cashmore boasts one of the most popular feeds on Twitter.

Justin Kan Justin Kan is the face of what might be the most popular live-streaming website online: Justin.tv. However, the 28-year-old Kan's successful site can also be credited to cofounders Michael Seibel, Emmett Shear and Kyle Vogt. The four hatched the site in 2007, with Kan beginning a constant video stream from a webcam attached to his hat. Broadcasting his life through a never-ending stream over a period of eight months spawned the term "lifecasting."

Ryan Allis and Aaron Houghton Ryan Allis and Aaron Houghton might not be household names. But since 2003 when both were just teenagers, the duo has steadily built a successful e-mail marketing platform that pulled in $40 million in revenue in 2008. Even before they built iContact, both of these young men had started businesses that likely informed their future success. At age 11, Allis began a consulting business to teach senior citizens how to use computers. Houghton started not in tech, but instead in bike repair, looking for spare parts in local junkyards to power his early business.

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