Payments Report 2024

Are payments in Sweden efficient?

Download PDF

Cross-border payments should be more efficient

Published: 14 March 2024

Cross-border payments are often slower, more expensive and less transparent as domestic payments. A natural explanation for this is that the payment process for cross-border payments usually contains more steps, such as currency exchange, and involves more actors than domestic payments. However, G20 countries have agreed on ambitious targets aimed at improving cross-border payments within the next few years. You can find them in Table 1 below. According to a follow-up report from the Financial Stability Board, developments are moving in the right direction.

Table 1. G20 targets for cross-border payments
Target area Payment type
  Wholesale payments Retail payments Remittances
Cost No target By 2027, the global average cost of a payment must not exceed 1 per cent of the payment value and there must be no corridors where the cost exceeds 3 per cent. By 2030, the global average cost of sending a USD 200 remittance should not exceed 3 per cent of the amount sent and there should be no corridors where costs exceed 5 per cent.
Speed By 2027, three quarters of all payments should be available to the payee within one hour and one quarter within one day.
Access By 2027, everyone should have access to at least one payment service.
Transparency By 2027, all payment service providers must disclose at least the total transaction cost.

Note: This is a simplified overview. For more detailed information, see source.


There has not been a full evaluation of how payments from Sweden contribute to the G20 targets, but previous studies indicate that Sweden is relatively well placed. However, Sweden does not always meet the cost and speed targets. In the Riksbank’s publication Economic Review 2, 2022 , a study shows that the Swedish cost of card payments abroad often exceeds the target. In the same publication, another study shows that there are retail transfer services in Sweden that meet the cost and speed targets, but also that there are others that do not or only partially do so. The authors also pointed out that the lack of statistics makes it difficult to assess how well Sweden is contributing to the G20 targets, partly because there are no statistics on which payment services individuals actually use when sending money abroad. The Riksbank’s survey on cross-border payments is a step towards improving the statistics. You can read about it in Section Transfers abroad are perceived as safe but expensive.

Bank transfers within the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) are often more efficient than transfers to countries outside the area. This is because common rules and technical standards have been agreed for euro payments in the area. Even within SEPA, however, there is room for improvement. For example, banks in the area have been slow to start offering instant payments in euro under the common rules developed for this purpose. This is one reason why the EU wants to make it mandatory for banks offering traditional account-to-account transfers in euro to also offer instant transfers.

The Riksbank works together with the European Central Bank (ECB), among others, to develop the infrastructure needed for rapid and secure payments between Swedish kronor and other European currencies. Making cross-border payments more efficient is also one of the justifications for an e-krona. We describe both these initiatives in more detail in Chapter The Riksbank's work and policy. But the market also needs to accelerate its efforts to create efficient payment solutions that can be used by private persons, companies and associations.