Bitcoin is not money

Economic Commentaries, News Crypto-assets or cryptocurrencies are not the same thing as money. This is because these assets lack an official issuer and because at present they do not meet the conditions required of an efficient means of payment. For instance, crypto-assets have difficulty maintaining a stable value. The risk of crypto-assets affecting financial stability is regarded as small, although there are major risks for individuals who own them.


The phenomenon of crypto-assets has recently received considerable attention. There is as yet no established definition of crypto-assets and they are often called crypto-currencies. In the Economic Commentary "Are Bitcoin and other crypto-assets money?" the author concludes that these assets cannot be classified as money.

The decisive difference between crypto-assets and established currencies is that the latter are actively managed by central banks that have been given overall responsibility by law for the monetary and payment systems functioning in practice and for their being sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of society.

With regard to the crypto-assets, there is no one with overall responsibility for them. Central banks are also representatives of states or a union of states, as in the case of the European Central Bank. This means that these currencies can be regarded as issued by the state, unlike crypto-assets, which have no official issuer.

The Economic Commentary also discusses what risks crypto-assets might entail for financial stability and private individuals and how a potential e-krona would differ from a crypto-asset.

By Gabriel Söderberg, who works in the Financial Stability Department of the Riksbank.

The Riksbank's Economic Commentaries contain, for instance, short analyses and debate articles. The opinions expressed in Economic Commentaries are those of the authors and are not to be seen as the Riksbank's view.

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Updated 14/03/2018