Payments Report 2024

Work on the e-krona continues

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The e-krona as part of a long-term solution to the challenges of digitalisation

Published: 14 March 2024

The Riksbank assesses that there are problems on the payments market and that many of them have arisen due to digitalisation. For example, digital payments are vulnerable to disruptions. There are also challenges in achieving effective competition in the payments market and ensuring that everyone can pay. The Riksbank also considers that certain types of payments, particularly instant payments and cross-border payments, are not sufficiently developed and efficient at present. In addition, digitalisation has meant that the public’s ability to use state-issued money is deteriorating, due to fewer and fewer business operators accepting cash. The Riksbank therefore considers that a long-term solution to these challenges is needed and that an e-krona can be part of that solution for the following reasons.

  • An e-krona can give the public continued access to state money in a digital world. When making payments, the public can currently choose between state money, i.e. cash, and private money, which is now mostly held in bank accounts. An e-krona ensures that the public continues to have this choice even in a situation where cash is not widely used.
  • An e-krona can strengthen the resilience of the payment system. An e-krona based on its own infrastructure and combined with some offline features could make the payment system more robust and resilient. For example, an e-krona could work when other payment methods do not.
  • An e-krona can improve competition. The distribution of e-krona would be based on private-public cooperation. The Riksbank would provide the technical platform, while private operators would develop e-krona services and manage the contact with end users. An important part of this is that non-bank players would be able to distribute e-krona and thus offer payment services that they cannot offer today.
  • An e-krona can be a tool to strengthen inclusion. A properly designed e-krona can help bring more people into the payments market. This includes people who are currently digitally excluded or who, for various reasons, do not have a bank account. However, it is based on the fact that the e-krona has a simple and intuitive form and that it is possible to access an e-krona wallet even for people without a bank account.
  • An e-krona can improve cross-border payments. Many central banks are exploring central bank digital currencies. A key motivation for the international work is to enable the interconnection of different national central bank digital money systems to facilitate cross-border payments and make them cheaper and more efficient.

Focus on fundamental design and policy issues concerning a possible future e-krona

In February 2020, the Riksbank began development work together with a technical supplier who developed a platform where the Riksbank has been able to test various functions for a potential e-krona. This part of the e-krona project was called the e-krona pilot. Within the framework of the e-krona pilot, the Riksbank has tested offline functions, conditional payments and payments between different currencies. The Riksbank has also gathered information from the market to get a better picture of other technical solutions for central bank digital currencies than the one used for the e-krona pilot.

In autumn 2023, the e-krona pilot ended and the Riksbank shut down the technical e-krona platform. However, the Riksbank’s work on fundamental design and policy issues for a possible future e-krona continues. This work includes looking at which laws need to be changed at the same time as the work on communicating the Riksbank’s view of how an e-krona should be designed is being intensified. The work is based on the ongoing international work on digital central bank currencies, not least the ECB’s work on a digital euro, which you can read more about in Section The digitalisation of payments is a global trend.