Decisions about the e-crown creep closer – 19 IT companies fight for the Riksbank’s favor

All Credits to Mattias Malmqvist | Original Post –

Before the summer, the Riksbank will assess the proposals made by IT providers regarding how an e-crown can be designed – and then decide if they continue with any of these solutions. It tells project leader Eva Julin.

It was in November last year that the Riksbank aired its thoughts on an e-krona. The background is that the use of cash is steadily decreasing – and there may be a digital supplement to the notes and coins.

This would make the payment system more robust and less vulnerable if, for example, the card payment system would suffer from malfunctions.

However, the work on the e-crown is at an early stage. Still, there is a lot about a dialogue to find out how an e-crown can work. But the interest of IT vendors has not been awaiting – on the contrary. It tells Eva Julin, project manager at the Riksbank, and has now come up with the first interim report on the e-krona.

“There has been a lot of interest, from small home cutters to the biggest suppliers, have heard and asked if they can contribute. It actually started already when we told us about these plans last fall, and now it has started again after we released our report, she says.

The fact that the IT industry is hot on the pit is no wonder, because even though it is early in the process, it is obvious that such a platform would require a lot of resources in terms of system development, management, IT security and interoperability, it would say ability to talk with other systems. But any technology that may eventually be used will be investigated.

– We must first discuss and come up with what it is for the e-crown we want, and then we can start looking at the technology. For example, it is far too early to say that we will award a contract on this at a certain date.

Eva Julin says that the Riksbank this year will devote itself to developing the theoretical concept and that next year they will start looking more closely at what they actually need to build such a platform / infrastructure.

Early in December 2018, they can make decisions on implementation and development. Is it a bit too eager when it comes to hearing about the e-crown?

“I am grateful and glad they are interested. Technical progress is fast, and we need to learn more. But it is early in the process of our part.

However, in the report, the Riksbank points to certain technical features that an e-crown should have regardless of how it is designed:

• Scalability . “An e-crown must have a solid base, which can be progressively expanded in different stages, as the requirements for e-crown solution develop… The basic solution should be designed to integrate with new modules and functions via open interfaces.”

• Interoperability . “It should be portable as much as possible and work equally well no matter what type of device or operating system is being used.”

• Reliability . “The e-crown solution should be robustly built to ensure good operational reliability and provide the best available protection against cyber attacks and different types of fraud.”

• Availability . It should be easy to use and offer good performance, for example, in terms of transaction speed. It will also be available 24 hours a day throughout the year.

The report further states that the Swedish payment market is unique in an international perspective, as cash use is decreasing at such a rapid pace – while card payments and also Swish have become more common. The proportion of cash payments in trade has decreased from almost 40 percent in 2010 to about 15 percent in 2016. Within a not too distant future, Sweden can become a society where cash is not generally viable, according to the report.

Two possible models for an e-crown are presented: A register-based e-krona where credit is stored centrally on accounts in a database. The second model is a value-based e-crown that is more like today’s cash because the value should be stored locally in an app or on a card.

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