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Swedish central bank calls for legislation to protect cash

Swedish central bank calls for legislation to protect cash

Even as cash usage continues to fall in Sweden, legislation is needed to ensure that people can pay with notes and coins, says the central bank governor.

Often lauded as a country well on its way to becoming a cashless society, Sweden saw the amount of notes in circulation decrease by 10% in 2023, according to a report from the Riksbank. However, this is a far from universally popular trend, with 44% of Swedes reporting a negative attitude to the decline in cash use, up from 36% in 2022.

To help address this, the central bank says that banks should be obliged to accept deposits of banknotes and coins from people, which is not currently the case.

The Riksbank has also sounded the alarm over cash management, noting that there is currently only one private company in the country transporting physical money to and from retail businesses. The government should put together proposals on how Riksbank and commercial banks can ensure cash can be transported if the current system breaks down, says the report.

Meanwhile, banks and other payment service providers need to adapt their services for people who have difficulty using digital technology. To simplify payments and identification, technical solutions such as biometrics could be more widely offered, suggests the report.

The central bank is also concerned about the number of people and businesses that do not have access to payment accounts because they are seen as risky customers. Banks, says the report, should instead offer more accounts with limited functionality.

Erik Thedéen, governor, Riksbank, says: "Payments must work for everyone. In the longer term, all payments may be digital - but until then, cash plays an important role. We need legislation to ensure that cash can be used to pay.

"Banks must also ensure that more customers have access to payment accounts. These are important prerequisites for everyone to be able to pay today and in the future."

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