Payments Report 2021

Are payments in Sweden safe?

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Forged banknotes declining from historically high level

Published: 3 November 2021

Even if the money and institutions that manage our payments are secure, there may be other risks linked to our payments and means of payment. For example, there is always a risk that cash will be stolen or counterfeited. However, from an international perspective, the new Swedish banknote series has a very high level of security with details that are very difficult to counterfeit.

The fact that there are nevertheless counterfeit banknotes in circulation is probably because fewer Swedes are using cash today and knowledge of how a genuine banknote looks has therefore declined among private persons and shop employees. It is easy to see whether a banknote is genuine if you know what to look for. When you examine a banknote, you should look at a combination of several security details, such as the security strip, the colour-shifting image, the watermark, the intaglio, the see-through picture, the security thread and the microtexts.

Historically, the volume of counterfeit banknotes in Sweden has been small, and has mainly involved larger denominations. But since autumn 2019, the number of counterfeit banknotes increased to a historically high level, to then fall once again in 2021. During 2019, 1,703 counterfeit notes were detected, and in 2020, 6,629 such notes were found. Most of the counterfeit banknotes are 500-krona notes. The counterfeits discovered so far have been of very low quality and attempts at imitating the security features on the banknotes have been highly unsophisticated or absent.