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A study of turbulence in the Swedish payment system – is there a way forward?

Niklas Arvidsson (Associate Professor, Department of Industrial Economics and Management, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 2 September 2014




The purpose of this study is to understand turbulence in the field of payments in Europe and which future challenges this bring. The objective is to enable actors – industrial as well as policy-making agencies – to avoid becoming passive and reluctant to take needed steps that may realize a new playing field for payments.


The article uses scenario analysis methodology to propose a way forward if the field of payments is to move away from turbulence and instead embrace renewal. It is based on a literature study, interviews and workshops.


This article discusses and shows how the payment system is in a state of turbulence, which in itself, may become a self-reinforcing negative process. The seemingly rational competitive actions that firms take in this situation may make the situation worse. The article also outlines critical action that must be taken to avoid this negative process.

Research limitations/implications

There is a need for research that integrates studies on innovation and renewal in the critical industries – banking, telecom and the system driving industries – to improve our understanding of possible synergies and/or obstacles to integrated, cross-industry innovation efforts. Such insights may also lay the foundation for the creation of a way to overcome turbulence.

Practical implications

The article advocates the need that critical actors collaborate to develop a new understanding – or common ground – of a future payment system. This will serve as a tool to identify obstacles and challenges, develop action and formulate agendas for different actors in and around the system. Based on the new common ground, actors are then free to formulate their own strategic agendas in a new competitive landscape in the field of payments.

Social implications

If the turbulence is to be avoided, national governments in the euro area and the European Union Commission must work hard to avoid national exemptions and adaptations (often caused by strong lobbying by companies from each country in question). Innovation agencies must work so as to stimulate renewal. Another task could be to educate consumers on the social and economic benefits of moving away from a cash-based payment system.


The originality of this paper is to test the idea that turbulence and the consequential inertia in the payment system is a result of the institutional set-up of the industry. In addition, the article uses causal texture theory and scenario analysis to understand turbulence and inertia in the payment system. This has, to my knowledge, not been done before.



Arvidsson, N. (2014), "A study of turbulence in the Swedish payment system – is there a way forward?", Foresight, Vol. 16 No. 5, pp. 462-482.



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