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. At yet no decision has been taken to issue an e-krona.
The e-krona – state money in digital form
Today, the public has access to Swedish kronor in the form of state-issued cash and digital money issued by commercial banks. As cash is used less and less, there is a risk that the general 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 an e-krona – a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
The Riksbank considers that an e-krona could contribute to strengthening the resilience of the payment system. It is important to have access to an alternative form of payment in the event of serious disruptions to the banks’ or card companies’ systems. An e-krona could fulfil the same task that cash has fulfilled so far – providing a state payment alternative that is available to all and that complements the supply of payment services from the private sector. By providing an e-krona and thereby an alternative infrastructure for payments, the Riksbank could also give other actors than banks direct access to a payment infrastructure where they can offer payment services to their customers. This makes it easier for smaller and newer actors to compete, which benefits innovation.
Providing the general public with central bank money in the form of banknotes and coins is an important part of the Riksbank’s task of ensuring that Swedish payments are safe and efficient. Technological advances do not change this task. Cash quite simply needs to be adapted to today’s technology. The Riksbank therefore thinks that there may be reason to issue the Swedish krona digitally, in the form of an e-krona.
An e-krona would act together with the existing payment system and one e-krona would be worth as much as a physical 1-krona coin or one krona in a private bank account.
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 hear their views on an e-krona, reviewed proposals for suitable technology, 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 – developing 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 a project, the 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 2022, the Riksbank will continue its work on:
- Investigating the need for and effects of an e-krona on the Swedish economy.
- Testing the technical solution for the e-krona within the e-krona pilot.
- Investigating whether and if so how an e-krona would affect Swedish legislation and the Riksbank’s task.
- Comparing different technical solutions and a models for an e-krona.
- Preparing for a possible procurement of an issuable e-krona.
Reports on the e-krona
Within the e-krona project, the Riksbank has produced four reports, in which you read about their analysis and conclusions so far.
- 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 – inquiry in progress
The question of whether Sweden should introduce a state-issued digital krona is one that will affect the whole of society and, ultimately, the decision on whether to introduce an e-krona in Sweden is a political one.
An inquiry is under way into the state’s role in the payment market and the need for central bank digital currency. Read more on the Government website: Statens roll på betalningsmarknaden (The state’s role on the payment market) - Regeringen.se (in Swedish)