Everyone should have the right to become a customer of a bank
In order to make it easier for Ukrainian refugees to access banking services, it is proposed that the current obligation for banks to offer payment accounts to all consumers should also apply to Swedish branches of foreign banks. This is stated in a memorandum that the Ministry of Finance is circulating for consultation today.
Swedish banks are obliged to offer payment accounts with basic services to all customers legally resident in Sweden. The EU’s decision to activate the Temporary Protection Directive means that refugees arriving in Sweden from Ukraine will be granted temporary residence and work permits here. This gives them, among other things, the right to open a payment account for making deposits and withdrawals, use a debit card and make payments.
Today, only banks headquartered in Sweden are covered by this requirement. In order to make it easier for Ukrainian refugees to access banking services, it is now proposed that branches of foreign banks should also be subject to the obligation to provide basic banking services.
“People without a payment account may experience a form of exclusion that makes matters such as employment, housing and contacts with government agencies more difficult. A payment account is therefore crucial to participate in society,” says Minister for Financial Markets Max Elger.
The banks’ obligation to offer payment accounts to all consumers is essentially unconditional. However, a payment account may not be opened if there is a suspicion that the account will be used for money laundering or terrorist financing. As part of this examination, consumers need to be able to identify themselves, for example with a passport. The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority supervises compliance with the provisions on access to payment accounts by the banks.
The obligation to offer payment accounts applies to all banks providing payment accounts to other consumers. This means that banks offering payment accounts to anyone should offer them to everyone, regardless of their branch network.
It is proposed that these legislative amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2023.