Swedish Bills and Coins

By Magnus Hansén

The basics

Swedish krona is the official currency in Sweden. The currency krona was first created in Denmark in 1873. At this time Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland shared the same currency. Norway joined the currency union in 1875. Later on in Nordic history, all the countries decided to free themselves from the union because of the domestic monetary policy in each country. The word "kronor" is still in use in many of the Nordic countries, but with each nation's own epithet in front of it, e.g. Dansk krona.

The physical coins and bills of the Swedish kronor are produced by Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden's National Bank, also known as Riksbanken). Sveriges Riksbank was founded in 1668 and has its headquarters in Stockholm with Stefan Ingves as the current governor. Sveriges Riksbank is the 4th oldest bank still operating today and runs by the Latin motto "Hinc robur et securitas", which translates to "Herefore strength and safety".

In Sweden, there are bills worth 1000 Swedish kronor, 500 kronor, 100 kronor, 50 kronor and 20 kronor. The coins are worth 10 Swedish kronor, 5 kronor and 1 krona. There are no coins smaller than the ones mentioned today.

Back in the day, Sweden used to have smaller value coins called "öre" which can be compared with the US dollars cents. The öre coins historically ranged from ½ öre to 50 öre. The last surviving öre coins where those with the value of 50 öre, but on December 18th 2008, Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden's National Bank) decided that "öre" in its physical form were to become invalid on September 30th 2010. Any coins that had not been used or exchanged at that point would become useless in terms of actual use. Despite the physical coin being gone, "öre" is still used as a unit in Sweden. This means that if you buy something for an uneven sum of e.g. 49.99, you have to pay 50 kronor if you are using physical money since there are no actual "öre". This happens because the payment total is rounded to the nearest krona when a cash payment is made. If paying with a debit or credit card, this is not an issue and you will be charged the exact amount.

The Swedish krona vs. the Euro

Sweden is a member of the European Union since January 1st 1995. According to the accession treaty from the same year, Sweden is required to join the euro zone and at some point convert from Swedish krona to Euro. Despite joining the European Union and therefore also accepting the treaty, the Swedish people voted to not replace the Swedish krona with Euro in a referendum in 2003. The inevitable change of currency to Euro is still highly debated topic in Swedish media and among political parties. Nearing the election for EU parliament politicians in 2014, the Euro was a heated question for many candidates. Sweden's reluctance to join the Euro zone is not formally approved, but in order for the nation to join said zone, the population needs to stand behind the decision. A new referendum regarding the Euro will be held when support is gained from the public and from the major political parties.

Security features

As technology is speedily developing, so is counterfeiting opportunities. It is therefore of outmost importance for Sveriges Riksbank to ensure that Swedish kronor coins and bills are as safe as possible in order to prevent counterfeit money to circulate the country. Here are some of the actions that Sveriges Riksbank has taken towards a currency that cannot be counterfeited:

* The bills are made with non-fluorescent cotton wool. This means they do not reflect any kind of light if you shine a UV-light on them, while this could cause other kinds of paper to look somewhat blue.

* On the 1000 kronor bill, there is a moving picture depicting the value (1000) as well as a crown when the bill is tilted. This detail only appears on 1000 kronor bills with foil strips.

* All bills have watermarks on the back of them. The watermarks are made up of thinner and thicker areas of the paper, shaping the same portrait as what is on the front of the bill. The watermark is visible from both sides of the bill when holding it towards a source of light.

* All bills also contain some kind of micro printing and can only be read with extreme magnification.

* A security thread is added while the paper used for Swedish kronor bills is being made. The security thread is visible to the naked eye and can be felt as a slight bulge on the bill. The thread is thicker on bills with foil strips and contains both micro printing and the kind of text that can be read without a magnifying glass.

* The foil strips on Swedish kronor bills contain holograms, three-dimensional images of either the bill's value or a symbol.

* 100 kronor and 500 kronor bills contain a distinct mother-of-pearl color.

* Value depictions and other details etched in copper on some bills give the surface a coarse feel.

The future of the Swedish krona

There are some pretty big changes coming up for the Swedish krona. "Why?", one might wonder. "Why make changes in a world where digital money is becoming the norm?" The fact of the matter is that, despite technical advances, physical money is still too important to be completely ruled out. A world without no physical currency is still many decades away.

In April 2011, Sveriges Riksbank announced new Swedish kronor bills that are to be introduced to the nation in 2015. At this time, they also re-introduced the 2 kr coin. As usual, Sweden stays true to its policy of putting great Swedes that have not necessarily been politically active on its bank notes.

The new Swedish kronor bills will be adorned with new portraits of not so new, but highly influential Swedes. On the purple 20 kronor bill, you will find Astrid Lindgren, world famous children's books author who is read by millions worldwide. On the orange 50 kronor bill, late composer and singer Evert Taube, will be watching you using his portrait while making purchases. Late actress Greta Garbo will adorn the blue 100 Swedish kronor bill, with fellow late director Ingmar Bergman doing the same on the green 200 kronor bill. Late singer Birgit Nilsson will be given the honor of having her portrait on the red 500 kronor bill and, last but not least, late diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld will be represented on the Swedish kronor bill with the highest value; the 1000 kronor bank note.

Swedish kronor coins will be subject of revamping as well; all coins but the 10 kronor coins will receive a facelift. In October 2016, new coins are supposed to be hitting the market. The new coins, including the re-introduction of the 2 kronor coin, are designed by Ernst Nordin on the theme of "sol, vind och vatten" (sun, wind and water), words from a song by Ted Gärdestad, one of Sweden's most famous singers. All old coins will be invalid a year later on June 30th 2017. All new coins will contain copper in various constellations.