Inquiry into the state’s role on the payment market a matter of urgency
Economic Commentaries, News The payment market is developing at a very rapid pace. This is not least true of the shift from cash to digital payments. It is therefore important that the question of the state’s role on the future payment market, including whether an e-krona should be issued, is investigated thoroughly and promptly.
The declining use of cash in Sweden prompted the Riksbank in 2017 to begin investigating whether a state-issued digital currency, an e-krona, could be issued. The fundamental issue was whether an e-krona could mitigate some of the problems in a cashless society. Ultimately, the question is what role the state, and the Riksbank, is to have on the payment market in the future.
The Economic Commentary “The e-krona – now and in the future” describes the current status of the Riksbank’s work on the e-krona. The Commentary also discusses the fundamental issues raised by the e-krona. These issues ultimately concern the state’s and the central bank’s role in society and how key components of society are to be designed. Finally, the Commentary describes the way forward and the choices that have to be made for the future.
The Riksbank is working to develop a prototype for an e-krona and a draft regulatory framework. The plan is to develop and test the prototype during 2020. However, it is important to stress that this work does not involve any decision to issue an e-krona. Just as in many similar technical studies performed by central banks around the world, it is primarily a question of learning more about the technical scope.
On 18 June 2019, the Riksdag unanimously called on the government to appoint an inquiry into the future role of the state on the payment market. This is not a question of a narrow inquiry into an e-krona, but of a broad inquiry in which the question of whether the state shall issue a future e-krona was only one component. Ultimately, it is also the members of the Riksdag who will need to consider whether Sweden should issue an e-krona or not and what role the state should have on the payment market.
There is nothing to suggest that developments in the monetary and payment area are slowing down. In addition, developments in Sweden have progressed further than in most other parts of the world. It is therefore extremely important for society that the issue of the state’s role on the payment market is examined both thoroughly and promptly.
By Gabriel Söderberg, who works in the Riksbank’s Payments Department