A customer prepares to pay using his smartphone at a Swedish food shop. Photo: Anders Wiklund / TT For the first time, Swedes have overtaken Americans when it comes to the amount of cashless payments carried out, a new report shows. Cash payments are decreasing in number across the world, with Sweden leading the way in the march towards a near-cashless society. During 2016, people in Sweden made an average of 461.5 digital transactions, which corresponds to a 13 percent increase in just one year, according to the annual World Payments Report. In the USA, the number of non-cash payments increased by just 5.2 percent under the same period, to reach 459.6. Sweden is expected to maintain its high growth rate and hold on to its position as the world's most cashless society, the writers of the report said. "This is the result of a trend which we've seen for a long time in Sweden. We Swedes are tech savvy and today we can buy more or less anything using card or a phone. What's more, … [Read more...] about Sweden leads the world in cashless payments
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Total store turnover, comprising sales of both products and services, rose 1.3 percent to 38.8 billion euros ($44.5 billion) from 38.3 billion euros a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Adjusted for currency impact, sales were up 4.5 percent at its over 400 worldwide stores. "It was an incredible year," Jesper Brodin, the new CEO of the Ingka Group which owns the bulk of Ikea stores, told reporters in Madrid at an event to promote its new city centre store in the Spanish capital timed to coincide with the release of the yearly results. Best known for its low-cost flat-pack furniture and sprawling out-of-town stores, Ikea opened 19 new outlets around the globe, including its first in India and Latvia in August. It is now present in over 50 markets worldwide. Ikea announced it will open its first store in the Ukraine in 2019, after a decade of negotiations, and on Tuesday the company said it plans to bring its products to South America for the first time with openings … [Read more...] about Ikea cheers ‘incredible year’ as international expansion boosts sales
The European Commission decided not to pursue the investigation. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT The European Commission has dropped an investigation into Swedish mobile telecommunication companies which prompted it to carry out early-morning raids at their offices in Sweden last year. The decision comes after it carried out surprise inspections of telecom firms Tele2, Com Hem, Telia and 3 in April last year on suspicion of abuse of a collective dominant position to block entry into the market. The companies all confirmed the raids and said they were cooperating with investigators. But after a year-long investigation the European Commission said it had decided to take no further action. "On the basis of the evidence found, the Commission concluded there was no sufficient grounds to pursue this preliminary investigation," it said in a statement quoted by Reuters. Tele2 confirmed in a statement that it had been informed of the probe ending: "Today, the European Commission has … [Read more...] about EU antitrust watchdog drops probe into Swedish mobile operators
This French expression is one you'll come across regularly but it can be tricky to work out exactly what it means. Why do you need to know à peine? It can be particularly difficult to work out how to use à peine and at the same time it's one you need to know both in terms of your own speaking and because it is used all the time in French conversation. You'll also see it used a lot in written French. So, what does it mean? Literally à peine means 'to pain' or 'to effort'. Obviously this doesn't make much sense in English but when used in French conversation, it acts as an adverb meaning 'hardly', 'barely' or 'scarcely'. While the literal translation might seem completely useless at first, there is some sense to be made from it. Both 'pain' and 'effort' suggest doing something with difficulty so it makes sense that you would 'barely' or 'hardly' want to do it. For example, if you're out with a friend and ready to have … [Read more...] about French Expression of the Day: à peine
France will see the return of nationwide strikes and street protests for the first time since June on Tuesday but what impact will they have? Around 100 protests are planned across the country as trade unions call on the public to show their anger at the government's social policy. Two of the more hardline leftist trade unions Force Ouvrier and the CGT have called on workers, pensioners and students to join their protest against the government's policies which they claim are "destroying France's social model". For these trade unions the government's policies follow "a logic of individualization which undermines solidarity and social justice". They also "attack once again the weakest, most precarious and the poorest," read a statement from the unions. With the government planning reforms of the pension and benefits system the unions hope to flex their muscles and send a warning to President Emmanuel Macron. Yet it's unlikely Tuesday's protests will be much of a concern o the … [Read more...] about What impact will Tuesday’s protests and strikes have in France?