Technologies tend to have their downsides, and in Sweden, where mobile phones took off early and have a huge role in the culture, there's now a new downside: high-interest shopping loans delivered via sms (short message system) - more commonly called text messaging in the U.S. Sms loans have spread like wildfire in the last year, and now more than 20 companies offer them. All a prospective borrower has to do is send a text message to the loan company giving the personnummer (national ID) and bank account number and if the credit record looks okay, presto, within 10 minutes the micro-loan - of up to about US$450 - is immediately electronically transferred into the account. With record holiday shopping predicted in Scandinavia, where there's a strong economy, record micro-loans are also anticipated - some with staggering loan costs.
In spite of, or perhaps because of all the pressure to consume, this is also the first year that the ekoreko (organic/fair trade and reuse) movement is really getting going here with Sweden's first large-scale "swopping" festival as part of the Christmas market at Gothenburg's World Culture Museum. Alongside local, organic and fair trade fashion companies such as Spirit of Maya, Sweden Organics and Zion, there will be a free one-for-one clothing swap, with all leftovers going to local charities. Via Etisktmode.se (Swedish)