Amanda Billner and Niklas Magnusson
Sweden’s central bank says it wants all banks, and not just the biggest financial institutions, to be obliged to handle cash, as politicians seek ways to limit the country’s rapid development into a cashless society.
Commenting on a proposal by the parliament committee reviewing the central bank laws to force the biggest banks to handle cash, Riksbank governor Stefan Ingves said that it mainly welcomes the plans but “wishes to go a step further.”
“It’s our opinion that all banks and other credit institutions that offer payment accounts shall be obliged to handle cash,”said Ingves said.
The Swedish Bankers’ Association said in a consultation response last week that the proposal to make just a few banks responsible for providing cash could be in breach of EU rules.
In an interview earlier this month, the committee’s chairman, Mats Dillen, said the proposal could be adjusted to include all banks if there are legal problems with forcing only some banks to provide cash.
Riksbank also made other proposals. After the committee proposed a requirement that companies shall be able to deposit their daily cash takings in their bank accounts, the Riksbank said banks should also be obliged to ensure that private individuals can make deposits.
It also said it “considers it important that the status of cash as legal tender be clarified, for example, it needs to be clear which services, in addition to public medical care, shall be obliged to accept cash”.
In a separate statement yesterday, Swedish ATM provider Bankomat said it should be the state’s responsibility to ensure that citizens have access to cash as the handling of notes and coins is such an important part of a country’s infrastructure. Bankomat said it also wants the committee to propose giving the Riksbank clearer responsibility for cash handling, including for cash depots across the country and for subsidising the infrastructure, it said.
The biggest Nordic banks said in July they expect to launch a new piece of financial infrastructure next year, promising to speed up international transfers in one of the world’s most technologically advanced regions.
The aim is to make it possible to clear payments and settle accounts in seconds, regardless of currency. The P27 project is so-called for the 27 million people who live in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland.