Sweden’s online gambling trade group, Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS), has requested that the Swedish Financial Authority (Finansinspektionen) clarify why banks have ‘withdrawn their financial services for’ licenced operators.
According to BOS’ complaint, the bulk of its members were forced to deal with sudden account closures and the termination of agreed-upon payment facilities offered by national banks in 2021.
In its statement BOS commented: “As far as BOS is aware the following banks have in some cases actively resigned or refused to offer services to the member companies: SEB, Swedbank, Nordea, Handelsbanken, DNB Nor and Danske Bank.”
Finansinspektionen must justify why licenced companies were refused basic banking and payment facilities they required to run their day-to-day operations, according to the trade association.
The industry’s transaction intensity
Gustaf Hoffstedt, General Secretary of BOS said: “The banks fulfil an important task in any society and for every industry. The online gambling industry is not an exception, quite the opposite with our industry’s transaction intensity.”
“With this in mind it concerns me that a large number of banks are withdrawing their services to Swedish licensed gambling operators, and apparently without any individual due diligence process.
“The decision seems to have been taken based only on the industry’s general reputation rather than any AML concern or similar from the bank regarding the individual client.”
Basic financial infrastructure
In an official letter to the Swedish Finance Inspection, BOS explained how the industry relies on basic financial infrastructure ‘in the form of banking and payment services’ to conduct business effectively.
This involves dealing with issues such as unlicensed betting operators, as well as shielding consumers from fraudulent threats and thwarting money laundering attempts, which is a necessary step in preventing the gaming industry in Sweden from being used for criminal or terrorist purposes.
Furthermore, BOS stated that the Swish service, which is run in collaboration with the major Swedish banks, is critical for member operators to be able to provide customers with requested payment offers.
In response to the banks’ decision to stop providing services to Sweden’s licenced gambling operators, Hoffstedt wrote in the letter that “the formal reason for the redundancies seems to be the outcome of the banks’ risk assessment and application of PTL,” but that “in some cases the banks have not stated any reason at all.”
Bank-ID identification and Swish
Finally, the General Secretary says: “The Nordic banks own the Bank-ID identification system and even more importantly the payment provider Swish. It is of great importance for operators in Sweden to be able to offer these systems to the customers.
“Bank-ID and Swish are important competitive advantages for Swedish licensed operators in their daily combat against unlicensed operators. We need the banks to be on the right side of that combat, and that is the reason we today ask the Swedish Finance Inspection for aid on this matter.”
The filing of a formal complaint on banking comes after BOS expressed concern about Svenska Spel, Sweden’s state-owned lottery and gambling business, wielding control over regulatory affairs.