E-krona study on behaviour and driving forces in the payment market

News Since 2017, the Riksbank has been exploring the possibility of introducing a supplement to cash, a digital central bank currency that would be called an e-krona. The work has focussed, for instance, on how a possible technical solution for an e-krona would work. To complement this work and better understand the needs and wishes of users in the payment market, the Riksbank has now conducted a survey on the attitudes, behaviour and driving forces of the general public and retail traders.

In 2022 and 2023, in-depth interviews were conducted with the public, i.e. those who make payments, and with retail traders, who receive payments. Elin Eliasson, Head of the Riksbank's E-krona Division, comments: “The user studies have been an exciting and important part of our work. Our ability to understand the needs of retail traders and the general public in the payment market is crucial for an e-krona to be useful.”

The payment market is functioning well – but there is potential for improvement

The user study shows that the Swedish payment market on the whole functions well, from both from the general public’s and the retail trade’s point of view. But there is room for improvement.

Traders are demanding increased competition with simple and transparent pricing models. This is because the payment market is characterised by a few dominant actors, which affects the price picture: “Payments are quite simply expensive”. The payment methods that traders choose are governed by what customers want to use. Traders prefer faster payments with fewer steps for the customer and that payments can be made in real time. Furthermore, traders are positive to an e-krona that can contribute to increased competition.

The general public has seen a variety of financial services emerge. Many people look for services where they get the best conditions, and thus spread their finances among different actors. There is a great need to get better control of personal finances and purchasing behaviour, as well as more detailed information when making payments. For new payment services, it is important to have a credible issuer that creates security. The more people who start using a service, the more other people will follow.

Different views on payment options during longer disruptions

There is strong public confidence in the ability of authorities to resolve payment problems in crisis situations. Few have considered that it would be difficult to make payments and think that they will manage if they have several cards, cash and various payment services. Having cash stowed away for emergency reasons is not perceived as urgent, because the use of cash has declined, and some do not have the financial conditions to do so.

In the event of disruptions, many traders have different types of backup solutions for internet connection and accept several different payment methods, including card payments offline. We believe that an e-krona could increase resilience to disruptions, as an additional option if other payment methods are not working.

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Updated 23/10/2023