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ECONOMY

Sweden keeps repo rate at 1 percent

Citing a weak growth in the Swedish economy and low inflationary pressures, Sweden's central bank announced on Wednesday that the current repo rate of one percent will remain unchanged.

Sweden keeps repo rate at 1 percent

The Riksbank stated that the development was in line with its own predicted outcomes from December, and that the repo rate would likely maintain the low level over the coming year.

“The Swedish economy is still being affected by the economic crisis in the euro area,” the Riksbank said in a statement, but added that there are some positive signs.

“The unease on the financial markets has declined, and households and companies, both in Sweden and abroad, have become slightly more optimistic with regard to the future.”

The Riksbank noted that as developing countries continue to emerge and the US continues to recover, the implication is that Sweden’s GDP will slowly increase over the year.

Two of the bank’s six governors, however, were keen on lowering the rate.

Karolina Ekholm wanted the Riksbank to cut the repo rate down to 0.75 percent, with Lars E.O. Svensson advocating a drop to 0.5 percent.

However, the bank explained in its decision that the repo rate must remain low to support Sweden’s economy and to ensure the country reaches its 2-percent inflation target.

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ECONOMY

Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.

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