Today, the public has access to Swedish kronor in two forms – government-issued money in the form of cash and digital money issued by private actors. Of the privately issued money, deposits at commercial banks are the most common. There is also electronic money, although this is rare in Sweden (see Riksbank.se, where we explain what electronic money is).
As the use of cash decreases, there is a risk that the general public will no longer have access to and be able to pay with government-issued money in the future. Businesses and individuals would then become wholly dependent on private operators to make payments. The Riksbank is therefore investigating the possibility of issuing a digital complement to cash, known as the e-krona.
The e-krona could ensure that we preserve several of the functions of cash in a future where cash is no longer used. One such function is the ability to exchange every krona deposited in a Swedish bank into money issued by the Riksbank. This is important because it means that a krona is worth the same regardless of which bank it is in. The Riksbank and other central banks usually say that cash and central bank digital currency ensure that we have a unified monetary system.
The Riksbank considers that the e-krona could also strengthen the resilience of the payment market. It would complement the supply of money and payment services from the private sector. It is important that there are several alternatives in the event of serious disruptions to bank or card company systems. The e-krona would also contribute to the renewal of the payments market. By providing an e-krona, the Riksbank can give players other than banks direct access to an alternative payment infrastructure in which they can offer payment services to their customers. This could make it easier for smaller and new actors to develop new and innovative solutions and products.