The Central Bank of Sweden is contemplating the implementation of a national digital currency as a complementary service to counter a decline in the use of physical cash in the country.
Cecilia Skingsley, the Deputy Governor of Riksbank, Sweden’s central bank, made this announcement at FinTech Stockholm 2016.
“Will we have e-krona in an e-wallet in the future, as naturally as we now have a wallet with cash in it?” asked Skingsley.
“The less those of us living in Sweden use banknotes and coins, the clearer it becomes that the Riksbank needs to investigate whether we should issue electronic money as a complement to the money we have today,” she said.
According to Skingsley, “almost everyone” has access to the internet through computers, smartphones and tablets, making it the best time to launch more electronic forms of payment.
“If the market can make use of the new technology to launch new and popular payment services, why shouldn’t the Riksbank be able to do the same?” queried Skingsley.
The service would also cater to those who do not live in Sweden, making it possible for them to access money issued by Riksbank in a “future where cash is used less than it is today.”
Skingsley also mentioned what she called the declining use of physical currency in Sweden, ”the declining use of cash in Sweden means that this is more of a burning issue for us than for most other central banks. Although it may appear simple at first glance to issue e-krona, this is something entirely new for a central bank and there is no precedent to follow.”
Riksbank has not taken a firm decision on issuing e-krona since it still needs to investigate several technical, practical and legal considerations.
If Riksbank eventually decides to issue e-kroner, it will not replace cash – rather act as a complement, said Skingsley, “the Riksbank will continue issuing banknotes and coins as long as there is demand for them in society. It is our statutory duty and we will of course continue to live up to it.“