Sweden’s reserve bank has warned that the individuals and firms purporting to sell the electronic version of the national currency, the e-krona, are fraudsters as the digital currency project ‘has not been concluded’.
According to Riksbank, ‘no decision has been taken on issuing e-kronas’ and therefore claims to the contrary were false. Riksbank pointed out that the scam was being perpetrated online as well as via phone calls:
… on certain websites and in social media, claims have been made that it is possible to purchase e-kronas. The Riksbank has also been contacted by individuals describing how they have been called by companies claiming to be selling e-kronas on behalf of the Riksbank.
Riksbank has consequently urged citizens and residents to contact the central bank in case they are presented with an offer to buy e-kronas.
Started in 2017, the e-krona project was initiated in response to the declining levels of cash usage in the country. Then, physical cash circulation in the country had fallen by 40% since 2009. The first time that the idea of an e-krona was publicly floated, however, was three years ago.
In a speech delivered at the time by Riksbank’s deputy governor, Cecilia Skingsley, she noted that it was a trailblazing concept:
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.
The low usage of cash in Sweden has only gotten worse over time and a report towards the end of last year indicated that 50% of retailers in the country will not be accepting cash by 2025. A couple of banks in the Scandinavian country also no longer handle physical cash and this has posed a challenge for population groups that are unable to utilize digital payment solutions such as people with disabilities and the elderly.
In Case of an Electricity Outage…
This has seen Riksbank consider ways and means of facilitating and increasing cash usage. One of the methods that has been proposed includes subsidizing cash by reducing the costs banks incur in handling cash.
The governor of Riksbank, Stefan Ingves, has also previously stated that even as the central bank proceeds with its e-krona project and other digital payment initiatives, there would still be a need for cash:
If the power supply is cut it’s no longer possible to make electronic payments. For reasons based purely in preparedness we need notes and coins that work without electricity.