BOS issues complaint after Swedish banks ‘withdraw services’ to betting firms

Sweden’s banks have reportedly ‘withdrawn their financial services’ to the country’s licensed gambling operators, prompting a complaint to the Swedish Financial Authority (Finansinspektionen) by trade association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS).

In the official BOS letter to the Swedish Finance Inspection, the company detailed that the sector relies on basic financial infrastructure ‘in the form of banking and payment services’ in order to effectively conduct their business.

This includes countering money laundering – such as criminal activities and terrorist financing – as well as safeguarding customers from fraudulent threats.

“The banks fulfill an important task in any society and for every industry,” said Gustaf Hoffstedt, General Secretary of BOS. “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, says Gustaf Hoffstedt.”

Furthermore, BOS noted member operators are dependent on the Swish service – operated jointly alongside the country’s major banks – in order to offer requested payment offers for consumers.

The association states that during 2021, the majority of its members have unexpectedly had to deal with account closures and the termination of agreed payment services provided by national banks.

“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,” BOS detailed in its statement.

The trade association demands that Finansinspektionen explain why licensed businesses were denied basic banking and payment services needed to conduct their day-to-day business.

Hoffstedt also noted that ‘the formal reason for the redundancies seems to be the outcome of the banks’ risk assessment and application of PTL, but in some cases the banks have not stated any reason at all’ for the withdrawal of their services to operators.

The General Secretary concluded his statement: “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.”