BOS claims Swedish banks suspended services to licensed operators

The Swedish iGaming trade association Branscheforenigen för Onlinespel (BOS) has made a complaint to the country’s financial services authority, claiming that all major Nordic banks had suspended services to operators.

An unlawful suspension

Sweden’s online gambling trade association BOS via its secretary-general Gustaf Hoffstedt, argues that “all major Nordic banks” – including SEB, Swedbank, Nordea, Handelsbanken, DNB Nor and Danske Bank – have “withdrawn their financial services for” licensed operators at some point this year.

Considering this as a violation of Swedish law, Hoffstedt has filed a complaint to the country’s Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen) and demands explanations why licenced gambling operators were denied basic banking and payment services that are essential to their day-to-day business.

Hoffstedt added that “no concrete justification for the dismissals and banks’ assessments has been provided in any case” and that banks have a contractual obligation to provide services unless there is a clear reason to break an agreement.

Strong ties between the gambling industry and banks

“Online gambling companies are dependent on basic financial infrastructure in the form of banking and payment services to conduct their business […] [requiring] to be able to store customers’ funds as well as receive deposits and make payments to customers” said Hoffstedt.

In addition, he argues that this suspension has also created challenges related to the activities of unlicensed betting operators, to the customers’ protection from fraudulent threats as well as reduced controls on money laundering.

“Without access to the Bank-ID system, online gambling companies need to use alternative solutions to identify their customers,” he said. “These solutions risk being neither as effective for companies nor as safe for users.”

In its complaint, the BOS responded, to some banks’ mention of the Anti-Money Laundering to justify their decision, that the act only allows banks to suspend services at the customer level, not for an entire industry.

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