Are paper receipts about to become extinct?


writer icon Kay Lagercrantz     Sabine Van Erp   |   Tech     🕐 08. Feb. 2018

Imagine a world where digital receipts are the norm, and every purchase you make is digitally filed in one universal program, under transaction date, seller, and purchase. It sounds a bit like online banking, but takes things one step further away from the bank’s own account-keeping and instead towards a digital bookkeeping system that is standardised for everyone.

A way to save time
In Sweden today, it is normal when shopping to be asked if you want a paper copy of your receipt of purchase. This exchange between cashier and buyer exists because many feel that printed receipts are a waste of paper and space. They fill up your pockets or your wallet, and you can never find them when you need them. On top of that, shops can appear more environmentally friendly, and even make something of an impact if they reduce the printing of receipts. The main problem here is that often the receipt is already printed, and gets thrown on to a heap of unwanted receipts from previous transactions.

Digital solution for businesses
Those who own a company and must submit a tax declaration every year, know only too well how much of a headache it is to organise all the company receipts. The internet is filled with inspiration and creative solutions for organising and filing, but there are still many people for whom bookkeeping consists of a plastic carrier bag filled with receipts. A well-executed digital solution could make a huge difference for many businesses, big and small.

The extinction of paper receipts
In order for digital receipts to be a reality, all shops and businesses would have to connect to the same software - an app or bookkeeping program, for example - that would then be available for download to mobile devices or computers. Swedish company Findity have developed a technology that they hope will lead to the extinction of paper receipts. Their app Sparakvittot (english: save the receipt) is a virtual filing cabinet for all your receipts. It also offers you an overview of your spending, and allows you to categorise your purchases by adding labels such as “bills” and “clothes”.

Organising with ease
Digitalisation of receipts is not just a way to be more efficient and save time in the long run, it offers people the chance to easily search through their virtual office. People can organise with ease and pull up that specific receipt right when they need it, instead of searching through their emails, pockets, wallet or plastic bag. It’s also a more environmentally friendly solution, and if it were to become the norm then it would mean a decrease in the production of paper for receipts.

Some big companies already signed up
In order for digital receipts to be the norm, shops and businesses need to get on board. As of February 2018, there are 847 businesses connected to Sparakvittot across all of Sweden. One third (259) of those businesses are in the Stockholm area, compared to 60 in Gothenburg and 43 in Malmo. Some big names have connected to Sparakvittot, including Polarn O. Pyret and Axfood. Findity also has a digital service for businesses to organise handling receipts and statements for company expenses, mileage/travel costs and per diem. Aptly named Companyexpense, it is this part of the company that has seen the most growth and outside interest. At the start of 2018 Findity received 25 million Swedish Krona in risk capital. CEO Per Einarsson told Di Digital that they hope to expand to the other Nordic nations, and perhaps even Europe, during 2019.

Are there any cons?
The pros to digital receipts are enormous, but what about the cons? Should people worry about leaving a digital trail behind them showing not just their purchases, but where they were when they made them? We live in a time where we click away our privacy often without a second thought. While banks are careful to ensure privacy for their internet services, there could come a day when our transaction histories are not so protected, and if that day does come, it might signal that we have already gone past the point of being worried or caring about that level of information-sharing.

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