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Sweden Country Report

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  • Published Date: September 2021

Commentary on the cards and payments market and retail banking landscape in Sweden is supported by historic and forecast data. The report gives detailed insight into the market's players, including cards networks, issuers, acquirers, banks, and PSPs, plus the Swedish payments infrastructure, digital and mobile payments developments, demographic and consumer trends, regulatory drivers, credit card profitability, and more.

What you will learn from this Sweden cards market report:

  • How a tradition of collaboration has led to payments innovations such as P2P market leader Swish – with more infrastructural plans in train that promise to transform payments across the Nordics.
  • Why the trend towards cashless does not mean a cashless Sweden is inevitable.
  • How the global schemes have fared as market share has shifted dramatically in the debit cards space.
  • Why revenue from fees is becoming crucial for the credit cards business.
  • How Sweden has become one of the few Western economies in which mobile payments have become widespread, with the country's banks now handling more such transactions than ATM withdrawals.


  • Retail banking, consumer finance and payments in this market are largely controlled by four major banks: Nordea, SEB, Swedbank and Handelsbanken.
  • Sweden is one of the world's most cash-free countries, with cash in circulation and cash transactions both declining rapidly.
  • However, the prospect of a fully cashless society may recede should banks be forced to provide cash-handling services to consumers: legislation is being considered to that end.
  • Swedish consumers made an average of 430 card payments in 2018, one of the highest rates globally.
  • The country's mobile payments scheme, Swish, has grown rapidly since its launch in 2012. Two-thirds of the population use the service, primarily for P2P payments.
  • Swish is also growing in popularity for online payments since that functionality was added in 2017. QR code payments at the POS were also made available in the same year.
  • Payment by invoice is popular in e-commerce, with transaction volume almost as high as that of cards. This is facilitated by companies such as Klarna that handle invoice payments for merchants.
  • Sweden's four big banks are collaborating with three banks in the region to create a pan-Nordic payments infrastructure. The project, named P27, is expected to be operational in 2020.

Sweden Payments Research | Report Contents

Key Topics
Demographics and the economy
Payments environment
Swedish ards market
Mobile payments
Profit pool
The networks
Key retail banks and issuers
Acquiring and processing
Online acquiring
Regulatory and other cards market information

Appendices: Card Payments Data

Appendix I: Demographics and the economy

  • Demographic and economic indicators
  • Ownership of key consumer devices
  • Internet usage by population

Appendix II: Payments environment

  • Access points
  • Account penetration
  • Consumer payment trends
  • B2C e-commerce payment methods

Appendix III: Cards market

  • Total cards payment metrics
  • Contactless cards metrics
  • Credit card numbers by type
  • Total credit cards metrics
  • Credit cards profitability indicators
  • Debit cards numbers
  • Debit cards metrics

Appendix IV: Mobile payments

  • Mobile proximity payment metrics
  • Mobile P2P payments

Appendix V: Profit pool

  • Swedish profit pool

Appendix VI: The card networks

  • Networks' credit card market shares
  • Networks' credit card numbers
  • Networks' credit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of credit card transactions
  • Networks' average credit card transaction value
  • Credit card interchange fees by network
  • Networks' debit card market shares
  • Networks' debit card numbers
  • Networks' debit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of debit card transactions
  • Networks' average debit card transaction value
  • Debit card interchange fees by network

Appendix VII: Key retail banks and issuers

  • Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers
  • Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings
  • Key debit card issuers market shares by debit card numbers

Appendix VIII: Acquirers and processing

  • Merchant acquirer credit card market share
  • Credit card merchant service charges
  • Merchant acquirer debit card market share
  • Debit card merchant service charges
  • Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships
  • Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships
  • Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers
  • Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions

Appendix IX: Online acquiring

  • Online merchant acquirer market share

Sweden Country Report | Selected Extracts

Demographics and Economy:
The country has an ageing population and invests more of its gross domestic product in caring for its elderly than any other in the world. In 2018, the number of citizens aged 65 and older stood at 19.8%. This demographic shift has changed investment and savings preferences.

Payments Environment:
Sweden's payments ecosystem is currently evolving at a rapid pace. Swedish households are using electronic means of payment such as bank cards and mobile payments at an ever-increasing rate, while the use of cash is declining.

Cards market:
The payment cards market is well established in Sweden with strong consumer penetration and merchant acceptance. Consumers made an individual average of 430 card purchases in 2018.

Mobile Payments:
Sweden is one of the few Western economies where mobile payments have become widespread. This is largely due to the runaway success of Swish, which dominates the landscape.

Profit Pool:
Credit cards are not a key revenue generator for Swedish banks. Nonetheless, Verisk's profit pool analysis shows stable profitability over the years. Profit per card was estimated at $39 in 2018, a small increase compared to $37 in 2012.

Card Networks:
Mastercard is the dominant credit card network, with an estimated three- quarters market share of network-branded cards in issue at the end of 2018. The debit cards market was traditionally dominated by Visa but Mastercard has turned that on its head by securing agreements with three major banks.

Key Retail Banks and Issuers:
Nordea, SEB, Swedbank and Handelsbanken dominate the Swedish banking system and accounted for 72% of banking assets in 2018. However, in terms of branch networks, Handelsbanken is the leader with 435 branches, followed by Swedbank with 248 branches.

Acquiring and Processing:
Swedbank Babs is the largest acquirer in the Swedish market, acquiring around 60% of card transactions. NETS, Handelsbanken and Bambora are its main competitors.

Online Acquiring:
Cards are the leading online payment method in Sweden but face competition from alternative payment methods. E-invoices are the preferred alternative to cards with other options such as bank transfers and Swish also popular.

Regulatory and Markets Information:
Banking regulations have advanced noticeably since the 2008 financial crisis. The law permits foreigners to invest in Swedish bonds and krona-denominated money market instruments, as well as to hold interest-bearing krona deposits in Swedish banks.

More Nordic Card Payments Reports


Verisk financial reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit in Europe. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and finance experts.

See more European country reports or explore cards & payments research reports for 72 markets worldwide.

To find out more or to discuss subscription options, please email: research_enquiries@verisk.com or telephone: +44(0)20 7337 4200.