The Swedish Banking Market

Banks in Sweden

Banks, mortgage and financial institutions and insurance companies are the largest groups on the Swedish financial market. Mutual fund companies and the state administered AP Funds (general supplementary pension funds) are also important players on the market. ​

The balance sheet total of the securities companies is modest in comparison with other finance companies, but they play an important role in society.

Number of banks

In December 2018, Sweden had a total of 124 banks.  They could be divided into four main categories of bank: commercial banks, foreign banks, savings banks and co-operative banks. The number of commercial banks and foreign bank branches in Sweden has increased from 63 in 2008 to 75 in 2018. The increase has occurred above all among Swedish Commercial banks, when several credit market institutions have transformed into commercial banks.

Commercial banks

Commercial banks are divided into three groups. The largest are the three big Swedish banks: Swedbank, Handelsbanken and SEB. These banks are important actors on most segments of the financial market.

The second group is savings banks that have been converted into joint stock companies, often with Swedbank as a shareholder.

The third category constitutes other Swedish Commercial banks with a diverse business focus and ownership structure. Several of the other commercial banks were formed from the mid-1990s onwards. At first these banks were mainly focused on the retail banking market and distributed their products and services through telephone and online, but also through e.g. retail stores. There are also examples of new banks with a background in securities trading and in the last few years several new banks with a background in the financing business.

The newly established banks have, in the course of time, increased the selection of financial products and many of these are today regarded as full-service banks for private customers.

Foreign banks

The first foreign bank was established in 1986, when foreign banks were first allowed to open subsidiaries. In the space of a few years, in connection with the financial crisis in the beginning of the 1990s, the number of foreign banks declined. Foreign banks were permitted to open branches in 1990 and, since then, they have increased.

In December 2018, the foreign banks amounted to 36. After Nordea moved its headquarters to Finland in October 2018, the bank became by far the largest foreign bank in Sweden. Danske Bank is the second largest foreign bank in Sweden.Nordea and Danske Bank have services and products for all types of customers. Most other foreign banks focus on the corporate banking and securities market.

Savings banks

There are numerous independent savings banks in Sweden and they are active in regional or local markets. Most savings banks operate in co-operation with Swedbank as regards technical solutions and the provision of a common range of products and services. The number of savings banks has declined due to small savings banks having merged.

Co-operative banks

A co-operative bank is an economic association that has as its purpose to produce bank services for its members. To be able to use the bank services of a co-operative bank, the customer must become a member by paying a member share. There are two small co-operative banks in Sweden.


Number of banks in Sweden​​

TYPE OF BANK 2008 (Dec) 2018 (Dec)
Swedish commercial banks 30 39
    - of which are big banks 4 3
    - of which former savings banks 13 13
    - of which other Swedish commercial banks 13 23
Foreign banks 33 36
    - of which subsidiaries 4 1
    - of which branches  29 35
Savings banks 53 47
Co-operative banks 2 2


118 124

Source: The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority