Danske Bank, Nordea and Swedbank have all recently been caught out conducting mega schemes that involved suspicious financial transactions revolving around Russia and other former Soviet countries.
The Nordic banks, which according to the Financial Times were once seen as havens following the global financial crisis, are coming under growing pressure – both from their business interests in the neighbouring Baltic states, where many of them expanded to in the early 2000s, and increasingly in their home countries.
But there is one bigger problem here at stake: the client.
Take my recent experience, for example. I’m a business entrepreneur and recently I left one company that I started to found a new one.
Founding a company in Denmark is a pretty smooth process – at least for somebody who happens to be a Brazilian living in Denmark. But like any other company, I needed a bank account.
With my previous venture last year, my former business partner and I generated a respectable sum in revenue. The funds came from Brazil, Poland, Romania and Italy. It was all legal – no shady practices. They were just simple financial transactions in exchange for the services we provided to our customers.
I naturally went to Nordea for two reasons. As an individual, I have an account there, and my former business also had an account there. Nordea, I thought, was an easy choice.
But Nordea refused to give me a new bank account for my new business.
Its argument was: “We are sorry but due to the nature of your business and because you will be receiving funds from Central and Eastern Europe (Romania and Poland) and Brazil, we can’t help you. We have no control over how these banks work.”
For the moment Think Human IVS is bankless. I’m sure there will be a solution, but in the meantime I have to invoice my customers through my wife’s company (insert #notcool and #notprofessional!).
I think it’s time for some reflection.
What’s the future of banks in a world that strives at all costs to be borderless?
Who are the incumbent players that will close the bureaucratic gap (like the one that got me denied a bank account) and will take advantage of this opportunity?
Finally, how can digitalisation propose more secure and transparent controls for banks?