Payments Report 2021

Are payments efficient?

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Digital means of payment are more cost-efficient

Published: 3 November 2021

Payments are efficient if it costs relatively little for society as a whole to implement them. Society’s costs include the payment intermediary's costs, such as costs for technical equipment, insurance, transportation, and also other costs such as waiting times for an individual customer. Society’s costs also include the companies’ costs for receiving payments, for instance, costs for cash tills and managing invoices.

The Riksbank’s most recent survey of society’s costs for various types of payment, which was published in 2012, shows that payments by card and direct debit are the most cost-efficient. For example, the overall costs to society for a payment using a card was around SEK 4. The cost for a cash payment was twice as high, about SEK 8. According to a study by Danmarks Nationalbank published in 2019, payments with the Danish equivalent of Swish are particularly efficient for payments between private persons. The cost to society for this type of payment is around DKK 2.

Riksbank implementing a cost study

The Riksbank is now working on a new cost study aimed at measuring society’s costs for various types of payments in Sweden. The results of the study are important to enable us to evaluate how efficient Swedish payments are and how they relate to those in other countries. The Riksbank will collect data from households, companies, the public sector, banks and other payment service providers. The cost study will be published at the end of 2022 or early 2023.