The Swedish payment market

The Riksbank is tasked with ensuring that it is possible to make payments safely and efficiently. We do this by, among other things, issuing notes and coins and providing the central payment system, RIX, which banks use to complete payments to one another.

We also compile annual statistics on payments and conduct a survey on people's payment habits every second year, help oversee financial institutions and the payment market, take part in the design of regulatory frameworks and analysis, respond to referrals and consultations and act as a catalyst by participating in dialogues with market participants.

A changing payment market

Major changes are now taking place in the Swedish payment market. Cash use is declining while all types of electronic payment are on the increase and developments are moving rapidly.

According to the Riksbank's survey of payment habits, 13 per cent of respondents paid cash for their most recent purchase in a shop, a low figure compared to many other countries. The widespread use of the Internet, tablets and smart phones is changing households' purchasing patterns and payment requirements. The option of making rapid digital payments directly and around the clock is in demand and banks, who have dominated the payment market for a long time, are now facing competition in the form of new market players.

Payment system for instant payments between private individuals

Today, private individuals and companies in Sweden can make instant electronic payments. Swish is one example of a payment service that makes it possible to instantly pay another person or company round the clock. In recent years, Swish has increased substantially in terms of both users and number of payments. However, Swish payments are made in commercial bank money and not in central bank money.

The e-krona, a new kind of money for the general public?

Due to the changes taking place on the Swedish payment market, the Riksbank is now considering the question of whether or not to issue digital central bank money, aka an "e-krona". How would it work and what would be the consequences for monetary policy and financial stability? This and many other questions are currently being analysed within the framework of the Riksbank's e-krona project.

Cash is needed as long as it is in demand

Even though cash use is declining, cash remains an important means of payment for many people, not least for those who do not wish to or cannot manage their payments electronically. It is the Riksbank's assessment that Sweden will not become cashless in the foreseeable future and as long as there is a need for cash, the Riksbank will continue to issue notes and coins.

A parliamentary inquiry

However, the future of cash is frequently debated, partly because several banks no longer offer cash services and more and more shops no longer accept it.

A parliamentary inquiry is currently under way into a new Riksbank Act. Among the subjects of study are the responsibility for cash handling, cash supply and preparedness in the payment system. The Riksbank hopes that the inquiry will put forward proposals that provide long-term protection for the utility of Swedish kronor issued by the Riksbank, in the form of both cash and the e-krona. Read more about this on the page "All banks should be obliged to handle cash".

Updated 22/10/2018