Aino Bunge: “The state must take responsibility for future payments – there is neither reason nor time to wait.”

“Digitalisation has created great opportunities, but also problems in the payments market that require the state, including the Riksbank, to take action. In the short term, the public's ability to pay with cash needs to be protected by legislation and more people need to have access to payment accounts. At the same time, legislative work on the e-krona should be initiated, in line with what is happening in the EU.” These comments were made by Deputy Governor Aino Bunge when she spoke today at the Riksbank's seminar on future payments. In addition, she pointed out that the banks need to take responsibility for modernising their payment infrastructure and developing more solutions for instant payments.

Date: 13/11/2023 13:00

Speaker: Deputy Governor Aino Bunge

Place: Sveriges Riksbank, Stockholm

Protect cash – we are approaching a cashless society

Digitalisation has created challenges and problems in the payments market that require the state, including the Riksbank, to take action. The possibility to use cash has declined. The Riksbank considers that legislation is needed to ensure the possibility of using cash, not least in situations where other payment methods do not work.

“For cash to be used in the future, both under normal conditions and in crisis and war situations, the Riksdag needs to regulate where and how it can be used,” said Ms Bunge, pointing out that stores should be obliged to accept cash for socially important goods such as food, fuel and pharmaceuticals. Banks should also be obliged to accept deposits from consumers.

Everyone must be able to pay

Ms Bunge said that a number of measures are needed to increase financial and digital inclusion, and continued:

“First and foremost, it is important that as many people as possible get a payment account. We also consider that the banks shall offer payment services at reasonable prices that are adapted to consumers who have difficulties using digital services. Public operators may need to help individuals with payments, for example at service centres or citizen advice bureaux.”

Develop more solutions for instant payments

Swish enables instant bank transfers and is a valued service used by many. But we need more fast and efficient payment services.

“The trend toward instant payments is now accelerating abroad and soon we will have European legislation that regulates these issues. This kind of legislation may also be needed here if the banks are to develop more ways to make fast payments. It is important that Sweden does not fall behind in the development,” said Ms Bunge.

Work on the e-krona continuing – legislation should be prepared

A digital central bank currency, an e-krona, could give the public a continued opportunity to choose between state and private money when making payments. The Riksbank’s work on an e-krona is a way to meet the challenges of the future and digitalisation. Many other central banks are exploring the possibility of introducing a digital central bank currency. For example, the European Central Bank has come a long way in its preparations for a digital euro.

“Sweden should also start work on legislation for an e-krona. If the Riksdag decides that Sweden needs an e-krona, the lead time should not be too long. It is therefore the Riksbank's clear view that the preparations must continue. An e-krona would preserve the state’s role in the payments system and make it more robust,” concludes Aino Bunge.

Updated 13/11/2023