Payments Report

The Payments Report describes and analyses developments on the retail payments market and presents the Riksbank’s assessments and work in the payment area.

Payments Report 2024

Everyone shall be able to pay – even in a crisis and state of heightened alert.

Payments Report 2024

Conclusions and policy recommendations 2024

The Swedish payments market has been digitalised at a rapid pace. Cash and manual payment services have been replaced by cards, mobile phones and internet services. As a result, payments in general have become faster, smoother and cheaper – a positive development. However, there are groups in society that do not have access to, or find it difficult to use, digital payment services and who therefore become marginalised. There are also serious problems of fraud that risk undermining trust in the payments system.

Digitalisation also makes payments more vulnerable to cyber-attacks and disruptions to the electricity grid and data communications. At the same time, the geopolitical developments of recent years require Sweden to have a strong civil defence. The ability to make payments should also be available in peacetime crisis situations and states of heightened alert.

Developments suggest that we should focus more than previously on the challenges posed by digitalisation. This concerns both the resilience of the payment system in the event of disruptions, crises and wars, and the ability of everyone in society to pay. Both public and private actors must contribute to these goals. However, this does not mean that the development of payments and payment infrastructure can stop. Sweden needs to keep up with international developments and remain at the forefront.

To make payments in Sweden even safer, more efficient and more accessible, the Riksbank considers the following measures to be necessary.

Banks and other payment service providers need to tailor their services to the needs of their customers

  • More private persons, companies and associations must be offered the possibility to have payment accounts. A payment account is essential to be able to manage one’s finances and function in society. Many are excluded because they are considered risky customers. The Riksbank considers that the banks must primarily minimise these risks by, for example, offering accounts with limited function, so-called low-risk accounts.
  • Banks and other payment service providers must adapt their payment services for people who have difficulty using digital services. These include offering customers affordable over-the-counter payments, paying by postal giro or making greater use of technological innovations such as biometrics for payments and identification.
  • Banks need to set individual limits on how much cash companies and associations can deposit in an account based on their actual needs. This shall also apply to coin deposits. Increasingly, banks are only accepting deposits of daily takings from companies and associations via deposit machines, which often have low amount limits and generally do not accept coins. This makes it more difficult for companies and associations to deposit their daily takings in an account and may lead to even more of them no longer accepting cash.
  • The privately owned payment infrastructure in Sweden needs to be modernised, especially Bankgirot. For a continued efficient and safe infrastructure, Swedish payments need to follow European standards. In September 2023, Bankgirot received a clear mandate from its owner banks to ensure that the Swedish payment infrastructure functions well in both the short and long term, which is positive. The banks now need to ensure that Bankgirot is given the prerequisites to develop and has staff with the necessary technical expertise for this task.
  • Banks need to develop more payment services to instantly move money between accounts in different banks. Today, this can only be done via the Swish payment service. The banks should make it possible to also make such payments via mobile or online banking. This would create opportunities for other payment service providers to develop new services for private persons and companies, thereby strengthening competition in the payments market. The Riksbank has enabled the banks to offer this type of payment service through the RIX-INST payment system.

The Riksbank continues to enhance preparedness in the payment system

  • Participants in the payments market should have a high joint capability to continue to process payments in peacetime crisis situations and states of heightened alert. Through regulations, the Riksbank now requires companies to be able to maintain their own payment operations. The next step is to work with companies to strengthen the joint capability.
  • The Riksbank will take a leading role in the work to improve the possibilities to pay digitally even when data communication is not working, i.e. to make offline payments. The Riksbank will convene relevant actors in the private and public sectors to contribute to the work.
  • More types of payments can now go through the Riksbank’s RIX payment system, making them both safer and more efficient, and the payment messages are being adapted to international standards. The Riksbank is also continuing its work on modernising RIX, and is investigating whether more actors can gain access to RIX in order to increase competition on the payments market. The Riksbank is also working to ensure that RIX contributes to faster and cheaper cross-border payments.
  • Instant payments are account transfers that can be made around the clock and reach the payee’s account within seconds. Currently, only Swish offers such payments in Sweden. The EU has recently adopted legislation to encourage more instant payments in euro. In order to support the development of new fast payment services and not fall behind European developments, the Riksbank considers that it may be relevant to regulate the development of instant payments in Sweden as well. The Riksbank will therefore analyse the need for legislation. The Riksdag and the Government should also examine the issue.
  • By establishing new offices where companies can collect and deposit cash, the Riksbank is continuing to improve the supply of cash. Having such stocks of cash in more locations across the country reduces both the costs for companies and the risk that cash would be difficult to use in the event of a disruption.
  • The Riksbank is continuing to work on the e-krona, which can be part of a long-term solution to many of the challenges of digitalisation. For example, the e-krona can contribute to a more robust payment system and be a tool to strengthen inclusion in the payments market. The e-krona can also create better conditions for competition in the payments market and make payments between different currencies more efficient.
  • Legislative work needs to start now to ensure that it does not take too long to introduce an e-krona if the Riksdag so decides. The Riksbank will therefore submit proposals on what legislation may be needed for the possible introduction of an e-krona.

The Government and Riksdag should introduce new laws on cash management

  • As a general rule, merchants selling essential goods must be obliged to accept cash, both to ensure that everyone can pay and to be able to cope with a peacetime crisis situation or state of heightened alert. The Riksbank is therefore in favour of the Government appointing an inquiry to investigate the possibility of paying for essential goods in cash. It should lead to stronger legal protection for cash.
  • The Government should extend the remit of the inquiry into the possibility of paying for essential goods in cash. For example, for cash to be used, it needs to be able to be transported to and from retail outlets at reasonable prices. Today, there is only one company offering such cash-in-transit services. Government investigators should make proposals on how banks and the public sector should share responsibility for this, including how cash-in-transit services should be maintained and financed when cash is used less and it becomes more difficult to offer such services on commercial grounds.
  • The Riksdag and the Government should introduce an obligation for banks to accept deposits of cash, including coins, from private persons. At present, there is no requirement for banks to offer this, and if nothing is done, there is a risk of deposit possibilities deteriorating.

Payments Report

The Payments Report describes and analyses developments in the payments market over the past year. It presents the Riksbank’s assessments and policy stance in the area of payments. The aim is to disseminate knowledge and to contribute to debate, and make it easier for external parties to monitor, understand and evaluate the Riksbank’s work on payments. Between the years 2019 and 2022, the report was published annually at the end of the year. From 2024 onwards, it will instead be published in the spring. No Payments Report was published in 2023.

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Updated 14/03/2024