The Riksbank is investigating whether it is possible to issue a digital complement to cash, a so-called e-krona. Just like cash, the e-krona would be issued by the Riksbank and be available to everybody. As yet no decision has been taken to issue an e-krona.
E-krona – state money in digital form
Today, the public has access to Swedish kronor in two forms – state-issued money in the form of cash, i.e. banknotes and coins, and digital money issued by private agents. Of this privately issued money, deposits with commercial banks are the most common, but electronic money is also available even though it is not so common in Sweden. (Read more about different forms of money at: What is money?. As cash is used less and less, there is a risk that the public will, in future, no longer have access to, or be able to pay with, state-issued money. The Riksbank is therefore investigating the possibility of issuing a so-called e-krona – digital central bank money (or CBDC, central bank digital currency, which is how the concept is referred to internationally).
The e-krona could ensure that we preserve several of the functions of cash in a future where cash is no longer used. One such function is the ability to exchange every krona deposited in a Swedish bank into money issued by the Riksbank. This is important because it means that a krona is worth the same regardless of which bank it is in. The Riksbank and other central banks usually say that cash and central bank digital currency ensure that we have a unified monetary system.
The Riksbank considers that the e-krona could also strengthen the resilience of the payments market. It would complement the supply of money and payment services from the private sector. It is important that there are several alternatives in the event of serious disruptions to bank or card company systems. The e-krona would also contribute to the renewal of the payments market. By providing an e-krona, the Riksbank can give agents other than banks direct access to an alternative payment infrastructure in which they can offer payment services to their customers. This could make it easier for smaller and new agents to develop new and innovative solutions and products.
Providing central bank money in the form of banknotes and coins to the public is an important part of the Riksbank's task of ensuring that payments can be made safely and efficiently. The development of technology does not change this task. Cash needs to be supplemented with a new form of state money adapted to today’s technology. The Riksbank therefore thinks that there may be reason to issue Swedish kronor digitally in the form of an e-krona.
About the Riksbank’s e-krona project
The Riksbank started the e-krona project in 2017 to analyse the need for an e-krona. The project team has held a dialogue with several national and international agents to exchange experiences, analysed various technical solutions and examined the legal issues that need to be dealt with to ensure the Riksbank has a clear mandate to issue an e-krona.
The e-krona pilot – testing a technical solution for the e-krona
In 2020, the Riksbank entered into a more practical phase of the e-krona project. To test how an e-krona might look and function, the Riksbank started an e-krona pilot together with the company Accenture, to construct a possible technical platform for the e-krona. The objective of the project is for the Riksbank to learn more about how a technical solution for the e-krona could work. By testing this technical solution, the Riksbank will be able to learn more about the possibilities of the solution and also to use it as a basis for comparisons with other technical solutions and models for a possible e-krona.
Next step in the e-krona project
In 2023, the Riksbank will continue its work on:
- Investigating the effects of an e-krona on the Swedish economy.
- Testing of the technical solution for the e-krona prior to the e-krona pilot focusing on offline payments.
- Investigating whether and how an e-krona affects the Riksbank's current mandate and what legal amendments are needed for the Riksbank to issue an e-krona.
- Having a dialogue with different authorities and the market, for example, via the external dialogue forum launched in 2022.
- Performing user studies aimed at end-users and traders.
- Follow developments internationally.
Reports on the e-krona
Within the e-krona project, the Riksbank has produced five reports in which you can read about their analysis and conclusions so far.
- E-krona pilot phase 3 (2023)
- E-krona pilot phase 2 (2022)
- E-krona pilot phase 1 (2021)
- E-krona project, report 2 (2018)
- E-krona project, report 1 (2017)
In-depth reading about the e-krona
The journal Sveriges Riksbank Economic Review has published two special issues on the e-krona:
Political decision on whether to introduce an e-krona in Sweden
Whether or not to introduce an e-krona in Sweden is ultimately a political decision. The report from an inquiry into the state’s role in the payment market, presented in March 2023, states that: “It is the inquiry’s assessment that there is currently insufficient social need for the Riksbank to issue a central bank digital currency in the form of an e-krona. Global changes may lead to a different assessment in the future. The Riksbank should continue to evaluate the prerequisites for an e-krona and submit a petition to the Riksdag at some point in 2024 with an assessment of whether there is sufficient reason to introduce an e-krona.”