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Sweden: Cash and Digital Payments

Categories : Cash and Crises, Cash is a contingency and fall-back solution, Cash is available to all users, Future of Cash
February 2, 2023
Tags : Access to cash, Cash, Digital payments, Mobile Payments, Sweden
Digital payments dominate retail transactions in Sweden, but cash usage has not declined to irrelevance.
Manuel A. Bautista-González

Ph.D. in U.S. History, Columbia University in the City of New York

Post-Doctoral Researcher in Global Correspondent Banking, 1870-2000 – Mexico and South America, University of Oxford

This post is also available in: Spanish

“Most people pay digitally in Sweden today and as a result there are fewer people who use cash. However, those who do not have access to digital forms of payment have difficulties in paying bills or in redeeming payouts of pensions.” – Sveriges Riksbank.

Living in a Cashless Society

Graph 1. Sweden: Percentage of People Paying By Debit Card, Credit Card, or Cash for their Last Purchase in a Shop, 2010-2020

Source: Riksbank (2020).

Mobile Payments: The Case of Swish

Cash and the Digitally Excluded

“Cash is still an important means of payment for many, not least for people facing digital exclusion… [We] want cash to remain a payment option in Sweden for the foreseeable future, so that everyone can choose how they want to pay.” – Johan Nilsson, marketing manager, Bankomat AB

According to the Riksbank, “cash is now mostly used for small payments and primarily by older people.” Yet, cash is the preferred payment instrument for migrants, the disabled, rural inhabitants, and the digitally excluded. The share of Swedes using cash fell from 39% in 2010 to 9% in 2020 (see Graph 2). However, for people aged 65 to 84 years, that figure was higher, at 13%.

Graph 2. Sweden: Percentage of People Paying in Cash for their Last Purchase, 2010-2020

Source: Riksbank (2020).

Older adults perceive more negatively the declining use of cash in society (see Graph 3).

Graph 3. Sweden: Percentage of People in Each Age Group Who Perceive Negatively the Declining Use of Cash in Society, 2020

Source: Riksbank (2020).

Cash in Circulation in Sweden

Riksbank data shows that the currency in circulation peaked at SEK113.67 billion in December 2007 (see Graph 4).

Graph 4. Sweden: Banknotes and Coins in Circulation, January 1990-October 2022

Source: Riksbank (2022).

The value of banknotes in circulation peaked at SEK108.517 billion in December 2007. The value of coins in circulation peaked at SEK6.071 billion in August 2010.

Graph 5. Sweden: Banknotes in Circulation by Denomination, January 2009-October 2022

Source: Riksbank (2022).

To secure the cash supply, the Riksbank proposes that certain non-banking actors should also be allowed to enter into agreements on the receipt and distribution of cash at the Riksbank’s depots. In addition, the Riksbank considers that the principles for submitting cash to the Riksbank’s depots should be amended.

A Resilient Payments Infrastructure

This post is also available in: Spanish