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.

Market structure

Banking companies, foreign banks, savings banks and co-operative banks are the four main categories on the Swedish banking market. In December 2014, Sweden had a total of 117 banks. Since the beginning of the 1990s the number of Swedish commercial banks and foreign banks has increased rapidly. The reason for this increase is primarily the entry of niche banks, the transformation of savings banks/building societies into banking companies and the establishment of foreign banks. 

Swedish bank companies

The four largest banks - Swedbank, Handelsbanken, Nordea and SEB - account for 75 per cent of the total market. Co-existing with them, there is a large number of smaller Swedish-owned banking companies with different ownership structures. Some are savings banks, which have been transformed into banking companies, often with Swedbank as part-owner. 

The other Swedish banking companies concentrate on the private customer market and distribute their services through the internet and by telephone. Most have been established within the last ten years and are often referred to as niche banks.

Foreign banks

The first foreign banks were established in Sweden in 1986 when foreign banks were allowed to set up subsidiaries in this country. In 1990, foreign banks were allowed to open branch offices here and at the end of 2014 there were 29 foreign banks in Sweden. The majority of them target the corporate banking and securities markets. The largest foreign bank is Danske Bank, which is the fifth largest bank in Sweden.

Savings banks and co-operative banks

There are approximately 50 independent savings banks in Sweden. These are usually small and only operate in regional or local markets. A co-operative bank is an economic association designed to conduct banking business for the benefit of its members. One example is JAK Medlemsbank.

Number of banks in Sweden​​

TYPE OF BANK 2000 (Dec) 2014 (Dec)
Swedish commercial banks 22 38
    - of which four big banks 4 4
    - of which former savings banks 9 14
    - of which other Swedish commercial banks 9 20
Foreign banks 21 29
    - of which subsidiaries 2 1
    - of which branches  19 28
Savings banks 79 48
Co-operative banks 2 2


124 117

Source: The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority