Clearing and settlement at Norges Bank – a historical review
The Norwegian payment system processes more than three million payment transactions every day. On some days the number of transactions can be far higher. The transactions are cleared and settled in the Norwegian payment system. In the clearing process, a number of transactions are offset against each other. In the settlement process, the results of the clearing are entered in banks’ accounts in a settlement bank. Norges Bank is the settlement bank for all the large Norwegian banks. The total value of the transactions is approximately NOK 300 billion on an average day. This means that in less than one week an amount equivalent to mainland GDP passes through the Norwegian payment system.
A clearing and settlement system that resembles the present system did not exist in Norway until 82 years after the establishment of Norges Bank. Norges Bank was assigned a key role as settlement bank and this role is firmly established today1. However, the current system is very different from Norges Bank’s activities in this field just after it was established in 1816. Norges Bank’s responsibility then was to provide a means of payment in Norway, i.e. notes and coins, in which the public had confidence. At an early stage, however,
the Bank offered to transfer cash between the Bank's branches. This article primarily describes some important events in the Norwegian clearing and settlement system in the period from 1816 up to World War II.