Access to basic payment services is poor
Published: 15 December 2022
Basic payment services are services that allow you to withdraw cash, pay bills and deposit daily takings in cash in a bank account. The aim of the Riksdag is that everyone in society should have access to basic payment services at reasonable prices. It is primarily the market that shall provide these services. The county administrative boards are responsible for monitoring access to the services and, with the support of the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority, can take action, for example by setting up payment service agents, in places where access is lacking.
The closure of Kassagirot affects vulnerable groups
To maintain access to basic payment services, the county administrative boards and the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) have used ClearOn’s service Kassagirot. By acting as an agent for Kassagirot, shops, petrol stations, kiosks and other businesses have been able to help customers with basic payment services, as well as deposits of cash into accounts and cashing in payment slips from, for example, the Swedish Pensions Agency or the Swedish Social Insurance Agency.
In August 2022, ClearOn announced that it would close Kassagirot on 31 August of the same year. This meant the end of 149 payment service agents. Of these, 22 were state-subsidised. As a result, about half of the places where bills could be paid with cash disappeared, meaning that large parts of the country now lack this service.
The County Administrative Board of Dalarna, which coordinates the county administrative boards’ work on basic payment services, writes in its annual monitoring report that 15 of 21 county administrative boards consider that access to basic payment services is not satisfactory for private individuals in general. This is a considerable deterioration from 2021, when only three county administrative boards made the same assessment. The deterioration is largely due to the closure of Kassagirot.
The County Administrative Board of Dalarna County also writes that it is for instance people without a payment account, asylum seekers, the elderly and people with disabilities who have used Kassagirot. Many of these people now find it difficult to pay bills on their own. People who do not have a payment account and have therefore had their pension or insurance paid out by payment slip have also found it difficult to redeem these for cash. To deal with this problem, many have had to have their pension or insurance paid into a relative’s bank account. This is a particularly serious problem, as it means that these people do not have control over their own money.
It is important that the Riksdag and the Government take decisions that ensure that everyone can pay their bills. One part of this could be to give responsible authorities the tools to maintain basic payment services that are not dependent on individual private companies. The Riksdag and the Government must also ensure that payments from Swedish authorities are made using a means of payment that the recipient can use.
In September, the Payments Inquiry, which is investigating the role of the state in the payments market, was given an extended mandate to investigate, among other things, the consequences of the closure of Kassagirot. The Inquiry needs to consider what requirements need to be made to ensure that everyone in society can make their payments.