The Riksbank’s responsibility for payments

The Riksbank’s objective is for payments in Sweden to be safe, efficient and accessible. Payments shall also function in peacetime crisis situations and states of heightened alert. The Riksbank takes an economic perspective and provides solutions and acts where it is difficult to attain the objectives without central government involvement.

The Riksbank’s mandate in the area of payments

According to the Instrument of Government, the Riksbank shall promote a well-functioning payment system. Pursuant to the Sveriges Riksbank Act, the Riksbank shall “contribute to the stability and efficiency of the financial system, including the ability of the public to make payments”. The Riksbank shall provide a system for the settlement of payments, contribute to the availability of cash to a satisfactory extent throughout Sweden, and ensure that the public can make payments in peacetime crisis situations and states of heightened alert. The Riksbank may, with the consent of the Riksdag, issue digital means of payment.

The following objectives guide the Riksbank’s work on payments

Payments must be safe

The payment system must be stable, resilient to disruptions in normal times and able to function in peacetime crises and states of heightened alert. It should be possible to use multiple payment methods so that payments can be made even if there is a disruption in any part of the payment system. Protection against fraud should be high. The payer and payee must be confident that the payment will be received and that the cash received is genuine, and that identityand card details are not disclosed and used by unauthorised persons.

Payments must be efficient

The costs to society, including energy consumption, for different methods of payment should be low. Fees should be transparent and payments should be quick and easy. There should also be healthy competition between operators offering payment services. This means, among other things, that the payment system must be accessible to different types of actors who want to offer payment services.

Payments must be accessible

It should be possible for everyone in Sweden to pay at a reasonable cost. Users must have good access to payment services and there must be different payment methods to choose between, depending on the situation and conditions.

The objectives of safe, efficient and accessible payments can sometimes be reconciled, but they can also be in conflict with each other.

The Riksbank’s role in the payments market

The Riksbank takes an economic perspective and provides solutions and acts where it is difficult to achieve high economic efficiency without central government involvement. The payments market is characterised by economies of scale and network effects, which can lead to a high degree of market concentration and a lack of competition and innovation. The characteristics of the payments market also mean that accessibility and resilience may be too weak without central government involvement. The Riksbank therefore needs to take an active role in the payments market.

In some cases, this involves the Riksbank providing services, either on its own or in cooperation with private operators, such as finalising payments between participants in the RIX payment system. In other cases, the Riksbank acts as a catalyst, enabling coordination, dialogue and creating conditions for private services and solutions. The Riksbank can also act as a standard setter. In addition, the Riksbank takes part in the design of regulations nationally and internationally. The Riksbank also oversees financial infrastructures and other key players in the payments ecosystem and monitors developments in the payments market.

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Updated 14/03/2024