Access to cash should become a legal right for Swedish consumers and banks should have a duty placed on them to provide cash services as a basic feature of payment accounts, Sweden’s central bank has said.
In a statement submitted to the Ministry of Finance, Sveriges Riksbank says that financial institutions have reduced their cash-handling services “too fast”, resulting in a lack of cash services for the public in general and in less populated areas in particular.
The total value of bills and coins in circulation in Sweden has fallen from SEK106bn to SEK80bn over the last six years, with the New York Times reporting in December 2015 that cash now represents “just 2 percent of Sweden’s economy, compared with 7.7 percent in the United States and 10 percent in the euro area”.
“The Riksbank says there are also clear signs that the supply of services is not meeting the demand and that this gap will increase if banks are allowed to continue setting the pace of the abolition of cash services,” The ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) says, putting its full support behind the the bank’s call.
Sveriges Riksbank’s statement “calls on the Swedish parliament to introduce a clear obligation for banks to provide basic payment functions that meet customers’ needs,” ATMIA adds. “However, the bank did not spell out what these functions are or how they would be met. The understanding is that the functions would be flexible and evolve in line with customers’ needs.”
“We have long since called for the Swedish government to recognise that access to cash is fundamental,” says Ron Delnevo, executive director of ATMIA. “Access in this case means the ability to conveniently deposit and withdraw both notes and coins. We are delighted the Riksbank has joined us in our calls for the government to take legislative action in the public interest.”
“This is a victory for common sense and for the future balance of the Swedish consumer economy,” adds Mike Lee, ATMIA CEO.