The Riksbank has been conducting a pilot project since 2020 together with the company Accenture, to produce a technical solution for an e-krona and in this way learn more about how such a solution could look like. By testing a technical solution, the Riksbank will be able to learn more about its possibilities, and also to use it as a basis for comparisons with other technical solutions and models.
The technical solution produced in the project is based on a type of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). It is based on a distribution model that is reminiscent of the model for today’s cash. In the solution, the Riksbank creates e-kronas, which are then distributed to the general public via participants in the e-krona network, for example banks and payment service providers.
The Riksbank creates and destroys e-kronas. Participants in the e-krona network, for instance banks and payment service providers, can exchange e-kronas for money in their accounts in the Riksbank's payment system, RIX. The participants in their turn offer end-users the possibility to exchange e-kronas for money in a private bank account, for instance. The e-kronas can be stored in a digital wallet linked to, for instance, a mobile phone app or a card.
During phase one of the project, which ran from February 2020 to February 2021, a test environment was created to simulate how a payment with an e-krona could function. Here, simulated participants in the network could order e-kronas from the Riksbank that simulated end-users could buy and keep in a digital wallet. A mobile app also enabled end-users to make payments, deposits and withdrawals. They could also make payments with cards and smart watches.
The evaluation of the first phase of the project shows that the technical solution tested in general lived up to the requirements that were made. However, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is a new and in this context untried technology that requires further investigation so that we can find out whether it can manage the technical and legal requirements for an e-krona. To examine the solution tested during the first phase of the e-krona pilot in greater depth, the Riksbank chose to initiate phase two, which runs from February 2021 to February 2022.
During the second phase of the e-krona pilot, the Riksbank began a cooperation with Handelsbanken and TietoEVRY, who will act as participants in the test network built up during the first phase of the project and which is to be further developed during the second phase. A test together with external participants will give the Riksbank the opportunity to investigate in a more realistic manner and to learn more about how e-kronas can be distributed to end-users via payment service providers, such as banks. During phase two, the Riksbank will also look more closely at the performance of the technical solution.
The fact that the use of cash is declining in favour of digital means of payment also means that it will be more difficult to make a payment without an internet connection. Needing to be constantly connected to various payment networks to be able to make payments makes society vulnerable. One important task of the e-krona pilot is therefore to examine and test whether it is possible to make payments with an e-krona in situation where there is no internet connection.