Banks hesitant to open savings accounts with negative interest rate

1:51 min

Some customers are reporting Swedish banks not letting them open savings accounts which could be due to the nation's negative interest rate, Swedish Radio News reports.

Richard Landén from Helsingborg, southwest Sweden, tried to open a simple savings account at Swedbank. But the bank wanted him to move over his entire account, including his monthly salary deposits and any savings he had.

"You have to be an complete customer, they said. It's either that or nothing at all, apparently," Landén told Swedish Radio News.

Swedbank declined to comment on the case.

Sweden's central bank has cut its key interest rate, the repo rate, to -0.35 percent, meaning making a profit on savings alone has become nearly impossible. The central bank will announce its next interest rate decision on Thursday.

Exactly how many people have been denied opening a savings account is hard to say. But savings advisor Claes Hemberg at Avanza Bank thinks it's a new trend. Several customers have been in touch with him about it

"Yes, savers get in touch and ask: 'Can the bank refuse me?'" he said.

According to Swedish law, barring any extenuating circumstances like suspected money laundering or large debts, banks are not allowed to deny anyone from opening an account.