Pandemic accelerating digitalisation of the payment market

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Developments on the payment market are very rapid and have been given an extra boost by the pandemic. Sweden has long stood out as a country with low cash usage and high use of cards and digital payment solutions, but now the trend is also visible internationally. To meet new developments, the Riksbank has for some time been investigating the possibility, together with other central banks and international organisations, of issuing central bank digital currencies and making international payments faster and cheaper. This is the content of the Riksbank's annual Payments Report, which is presented today.

Cash used less and less frequently in Sweden and abroad

Cash is being used less frequently, not only in Sweden but also internationally. The pandemic is one explanation for this. Instead of shopping in physical shops, many people have chosen to make their purchases online. Some have also been worried that the virus might be spread via banknotes and coins, which has caused them to pay by card or payment app. In Sweden, the use of the Swish payment app has increased during the pandemic, which is particularly noticeable among older people. An increasing number of retailers are choosing to accept payment by Swish. This development is reflected in the banks, where cash services offered at bank offices are relatively rare.

New service for instant payments

As instant payments, such as Swish, will become increasingly important in the future, the Riksbank will begin offering a service for this type of payment with effect from May 2022 – RIX-INST. RIX-INST will also join the Eurosystem's platform for instant payments (TIPS), which will make it possible to make these payments on a larger scale.

Increased international cooperation to meet new developments

As cash is the only form of state money to which the general public has access, the Riksbank and several other central banks are now investigating the possibility of issuing central bank digital currencies, to meet the demand for digital methods of payment. The Riksbank is taking part in an international working group together with the European Central Bank (ECB) and the central banks of Japan, Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, in which this issue is discussed. The group is also collaborating with the BIS Innovation Hub. Moreover, the Riksbank is taking part in a group of experts appointed by the G7 countries to produce common principles for the design of central bank digital currencies. Parallel to this there is extensive work under way within the G20 aimed at making international payments faster and cheaper, in which the Riksbank also participates.

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