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The Future of Money (in Denmark)

One of our partners at the Financial Services Club is CFIR, the Copenhagen Finance IT Region.

CFIR is an EU-funded networking group in Denmark who produce research and events around the developments in Danish banking and payments.

Over the past year, CFIR has worked with the Copenhagen Business School, IBM, Danske Bank, NETS, the Innovation Lab and Cellpoint Mobile, to look at the future of money in Denmark.

The project has just finished, with a report released this week (download a copy and exec summary reproduced at end of this blog entry).

The main findings of the report are that consumers are ready for mobile payments, but that does not mean they will use mobiles for payments.

There has to be a reason, and this is the criticality of how banks need to develop their offerings and services.

First, there has to be a clear incentive for the consumer to control their finances better by mobile.

Second, the consumer wants the bank to think about their context at the time of using the service.

Third, there has to be value in doing so.


In short:


  • "Help me to be in charge of my own financial situation"
  • Users actively seek to be in control of their finances


  • "Make my money valuable"
  • Users are creative and entrepreneurial


  • "Make sure the payment does not disrupt my experience"
  • The motivation for spending money is social

Makes sense to me and reminds me of a Mobey Forum report from some years ago that said that offering mobile payments isn’t enough. You have ot offer more, in terms of some form of addition value, to make this work for consumers.  Increased value might be coupons, gamification or some other similar capability, but something that encourages customers to move across to this new form o technology.  A technology that, as CFIR points out, is nervous for many as it’s new and different, possibly insecure and hackable.  These latter points are the points that banks need to address.

Talking of Mobey Forum, they have loads of research into mobile that is also of interest.

The highlight  of these has to be the recent series of papers on mobile wallets:


Executive summary of CFIR's User Study and Tests of Future Payment Technologies

This report describes ethnographic studies carried out within the framework of “Fremtidens Penge” (“The Cashless Society”), a large-scale research project conducted in Denmark by Innovation Lab in collaboration with Copenhagen Finance IT Region (CFIR), Copenhagen Business School (CBS), IBM, Nets, Danske Bank and Cellpoint Mobile.

The purpose of the project was to investigate the possibilities for replacing cash with other payment technologies in Denmark, whose population already comprises some of the most e-ready users in the world.

The preliminary anthropological study mapped Danish attitudes and practices toward money and different payment technologies already in use today.

How do people take care of their finances across the current spectrum of legal tender, and why? What are the strategies behind these dispositions? In the Payment Test Lab, we tested user interactions with new mobile payment technologies, and found opportunities as well as challenges to a potential cashless society.

Among the key findings are the three overarching needs displayed by users regarding payment technologies: Control – users strive to be in control of their finances by monitoring their payment instruments.

Value – users actively seek to maximize the value of their money by strategic use of the payment instruments that yield the highest value in the specific situation.

Context – most payments are entrenched in social situations which highly influence the pertinence of specific payment technologies and their practical attributes.

The study also found that while users are explicitly keen on enforcing security measures, in practice they prefer convenience.

Many would like to be able to set a maximum amount of their own choosing without using a PIN code in the payment app.

PIN usage divides users in general, and in many situations provokes distrust and disrupts the contexts within which payments take place.

Users also display defiant trust in the face of increased security measures – they want to prove that they still trust their neighbor.

Users place a high level of trust in the expert systems behind electronic payments, preferring already established “brands” such as banks or Nets1 to provide the next generation of payment technologies.

At the same time, apprehension regarding these same organizations prevails just beneath the surface.

Users are wary of extra charges in connection with the introduction of new payment methods, and they expect some monetary gain in return – especially if they are required to take on additional tasks related to payments, for example those that would supplant cashiers and their work.

Project and focus Fremtidens Penge (“The Cashless Society”) is a Danish research project that was conducted from 2009 to 2013.

It was funded by the EU Regional Funds and Vækstforum Hovedstaden, with the aim of discovering the possibilities of and obstacles to replacing cash with digital, mobile payments in Denmark – in order to make Denmark the first cashless society in the world.

Seven partners collaborated on the project.

Copenhagen Finance IT Region (CFIR) managed the project; Danske Bank and Nets provided financial and infrastructural knowledge; IBM and CellPoint Mobile created the technical prototypes that were tested; and Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and Innovation Lab carried out the quantitative and qualitative research.

This report focuses exclusively on the qualitative research and analyses carried out by Innovation Lab’s User Studies team, and presents the methodology, data and analyses for this part of the project.

Background: Initial ethnographic study Innovation Lab carried out fieldwork in spring 2010 in a number of Danish households to gain insight into attitudes and daily routines regarding money and payments.

In order to ensure a representative sample of Denmark’s population households were selected based on both geography and income level.

Data was generated through observation as well as semi-structured, qualitative interviews.

The working hypothesis was that the lower the level of education and official income, the higher the incidence of cash.

Generally speaking, this hypothesis was confirmed.

Additionally, three main findings emerged:

  • All users actively endeavor to be in control of their finances – with varying degrees of success.
  • The motivations to spend money are largely social: building and maintaining relationships as well bonding and signaling identity.
  • All users are creative and entrepreneurial, in that they actively seek to maximize the value of their money across the various platforms that are available to them.

For example, they use credit card payment periods to extend their monthly spending maximum, they collect loyalty points, and they use cash for certain informal services.

The Mobile Payments Test Lab In the subsequent lab tests conducted in our Test Lab center, 30 “users” of money underwent rigorous testing, interviews and surveys.

Testing took place across five scenarios: Retail, Parking, Cinema Box Office, Bar/Event, and Social (peer-to-peer transfers).

Each of these scenarios was characterized by a unique set of payment solutions tailored to the given economic, physical and social context.

All tested technologies were smartphone-based.

Users were selected according to two main criteria, age and education.

These criteria reflect two of the study’s main hypotheses: first, that age is a determining factor in adoption of new technologies; second, that education is a determining factor in adoption of smartphone-based payments.

A variety of disability types were also represented in the sample, including dyslexia, Parkinson’s disease, paraplegia and reduced sight.

Users tested three payment types in each scenario: SMS, QR and NFC.

Each user was encouraged to begin with the type of payment he or she initially found most appealing, then move to next-most appealing payment types.

In order to be sure that reactions and thoughts were captured, a speak-aloud approach was used throughout.

After each test the user was asked to evaluate the particular payment in terms of speed, efficiency, convenience, context and overall experience.

All testing and evaluations were video recorded.

To supplement testing with more ethnographic depth, semi-structured interviews and a number of small exercises were also carried out.

In the “Cash Exercise” users were provided with a few bank notes and coins, then asked to explain what these were and what they meant to them.

In the exercise called “Wallet Scan” users were asked to display the contents of their wallet and/or other payment-related objects which they might have on their person on that particular day; users then described and discussed their wallet contents and any other payment objects.

Complementing technical test results in this way enabled contextualization and segmentation.

In addition to data gathered from the controlled lab environment, live tests were also performed to strengthen the contextual understanding of three scenarios: Retail, Bar/Event and Cinema Box Office.

This report presents and discusses the main findings derived from this body of research, and assesses their possible implications for the future of payments in Denmark.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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