For the first time in 263 years, Sweden’s bills will be issued abroad, as the UK will take over the printing of new Swedish krona banknotes.
Riksbanken, the central bank of Sweden, has signed an agreement with a British company, De La Rue, to have Swedish banknotes printed in the UK. The contract is valid for three years, with a possible extension of up to four years, the economic daily Dagens Industri reported.
“We are pleased that were able to get a new supplier in place so soon,” Ann Fridell, the head of the Riksbanken unit for analysis and development, said in a press release. “De La Rue is a reputable company with extensive experience that has been in the industry for 200 years, so it feels safe for them to print the Swedish banknotes,” she added.
De La Rue is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of banknotes and has many central banks as customers, including the UK and Iceland. However, as De La Rue doesn’t have its own paper mills, questions have been raised over where it will get its supply of raw materials.
“De La Rue has its own subcontractors, so they may be coming from Tumba,” Fridell said.
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Previously, Swedish krona banknotes have been printed exclusively by Tumba Bruk, which was founded in 1755 and is the oldest factory of its kind in the world. In 2002, Riksbanken sold the printing factory to Crane.
Last year, however, Riksbanken terminated the contract with the former supplier, as Crane decided to close the Tumba printing plant, let go of 140 employees and move the production to Malta. According to Riksbanken’s requirements, manufacturing must take place in northern or central Europe.
Founded in 1668, Riksbanken is the world’s oldest central bank and the third oldest bank in operation.
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In recent years, Sweden has taken strides toward a cashless society, and Riksbanken has been toying with the idea of introducing a central bank digital currency, the e-krona, which would have the same properties as cash, but in digital form. Its first premilinary report from autumn 2017 found “no major obstacles for the introduction of e-krona.”