Payments Report 2024

Everyone must be able to pay

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More measures are needed to ensure everyone can pay

Published: 14 March 2024

The Riksbank’s assessment is that there are problems with inclusion in the payments market in Sweden. Too many people do not have sufficient access to payment services, which you can read more about in Section Are payments in Sweden accessible?.

Banks must improve access to payment accounts

Some individuals and companies experience problems opening and maintaining payment accounts with banks. Without a payment account, it is very difficult to participate and function in society at all. In order for everyone to be able to pay, the Riksbank considers that more private individuals, companies and associations need to have access to a payment account. This can be achieved by credit institutions offering accounts with limited functionality, such as lower amount or transaction limits, or by strengthening the monitoring of accounts in cases of increased risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.

Banks should provide customised services for people who are not digitally literate

Today’s digital society places increasingly high demands on people to be able to make payments digitally. Being able to pay is essential for a functional life. However, in order for everyone to be able to pay, it is important that payment services are also available for those who find it difficult to use digital technology. The implementation of the EU Accessibility Directive, as described in the box “New rules can contribute to payments market objectives” in Section Are payments in Sweden accessible?, is a step in the right direction, but it will not be enough to solve the problems. The Riksbank considers banks and other payment service providers should offer payment services that are adapted to consumers who find it difficult to use digital services. This could be, for example, over-the-counter payments and postal giro, but it could also involve making greater use of technological innovations such as biometrics to carry out payments and identification. It is also important that these services are offered at reasonable prices.

Public sector intervention should be broadened

Regardless of the requirements imposed on banks to provide payment accounts, some people will still be excluded from the digital payments market. The Riksbank therefore considers that the public sector needs to take greater responsibility and offer payment services for those who are unwilling or unable to pay digitally. This can be done, for example, by offering private individuals assistance in making payments at the service offices of the National Government Service Centre or municipal citizen advice bureaus. In the future, it is also possible that universally accessible payment services could be built on a possible e-krona, which you can read more about in Section Work on the e-krona contiunues.

The Riksbank is also in favour of the Payments Inquiry‘s proposal to change the political objective of everyone having access to basic payment services at reasonable prices to a more technology-neutral wording of the objective to the effect that everyone shall be able to make payments at reasonable costs, regardless of payment method. However, the Riksbank wishes to emphasise that many of the problems in the payments market have arisen because cash has been marginalised without sufficiently good digital alternatives being in place, and many people still find it difficult to make digital payments. Therefore, in order not to impair inclusion in the payments market, it is important that the state continues to support cash services.

The importance of national e-identification

There are several advantages to also introducing a national e-ID, including more people being able to identify themselves digitally, and the Riksbank is therefore positive to the Inquiry into secure and accessible digital identity’s proposal on how a government authority can design and issue a national e-ID. The inquiry proposes that the national e-ID be issued on a physical card and that only public authorities and private actors in healthcare and education be obliged to accept it. The Riksbank considers that this risks leading to a low level of acceptance, which would make the national e-ID irrelevant in practice. The financial sector should also accept a national e-ID and it should also be available as a mobile app.