It covers payment methods and information on, banking systems, foreign exchange controls, and U.S. and correspondent banking.
Methods of Payment
The payment system in Norway is highly automated and computerized. The most common forms of payment in Norway are bank cards (debit and credit cards), Internet banking/payment, e-payment through apps (such as Vipps, Apple Pay, Google Pay) and giros. Bank checks are not frequently used in Norway. Payment is normally prompt and usually interest is charged and paid if payment is late.
While the Central Bank of Norway is responsible for authorizing interbank systems in Norway, the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway supervises all banks and other financial institutions.
Participants in the Norwegian banking market vary from large full-service banks active in both the wholesale and retail sectors to small private institutions. There is also a range of savings banks. The banking system, i.e., the actual payment system, is highly automated and computerized. The Norwegian banking system is comprised of 40 commercial banks (including two subsidiaries of foreign banks and 16 branches of foreign banks in Norway), 105 savings banks and a small number of state-owned banks that provide financing for particular purposes. Other principal financial institutions are mortgage companies, finance companies and insurance companies. The Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (Finanstilsynet) supervises all banks and other financial institutions in Norway.
The Commercial Banking Act, the Savings Bank Act and the Act on Financing and Finance Institutions regulate banking activities. Norway has revised the regulations relating to financial institutions as a result of the EEA Agreement. With respect to financial services, the EEA Agreement provides for full adaptation to EU regulations. Foreign banks have been allowed to establish subsidiaries in Norway since 1985. Since the implementation of the EEA Agreement in January 1994, foreign banks may also establish branches in Norway, but only a few U.S. banks currently operate in Norway.
The Central Bank of Norway is organized as a share-issuing company, but the government owns all the shares. It is the executive and advisory entity for monetary, credit and exchange policy. It is the sole bank of currency issue.
Commercial banks enjoy a very close relationship with trade and industry. Savings banks have a long tradition in Norway and cover a substantial part of the local credit requirements. Merchant banks have not achieved the same position in Norway that they enjoy in some countries. This is partly because of the market dominance by the very large commercial banks, all of which maintain specialized departments covering the areas generally regarded as typical of merchant banking. There are special banks for fisheries, agriculture, shipping, industry, house building, and export finance. The State, to varying degrees, participates in all of these.
Foreign Exchange Controls
Norway has no currency restrictions. Foreign exchange controls were abolished in 1990. No licensing requirements are in force. The only requirement is a reporting requirement for international payments and financial transactions. The transaction bank generally takes care of this reporting. The Government has defined an inflation target for monetary policy in Norway. The operational target is consumer price inflation of close to 2% over time. Monetary policy shall also contribute to stabilizing output and employment. The interest rate on banks’ deposits with the Central Bank of Norway (the sight deposit rate) is the most important monetary policy instrument.
US Banks & Local Correspondent Banks
For more information about the methods of payment or other trade finance options, please read the Trade Finance Guide.
This information is derived from the State Department’s Office of Investment Affairs’ 2022 Investment Climate Statement Any questions on the ICS can be directed to: EB-ICS-DL@state.gov