Internationals’ struggle to get BankID – “I felt like I was back in the 1980s”

- in In English, Nyheter

BankID is Sweden’s most used e-ID; thousands of companies and authorities acknowledge the app as a safe and valid way of identifying their customers or citizens. However, many internationals struggle with getting access to the service. 

In order to get the BankID one needs two things, a bank account and a personal number. The age limit for getting the BankID is determined by the banks but in most cases, the rule is that you can have BankID after you have turned 18 years old.

Lundagård decided to interview three international students in order to learn about what struggles they faced whilst getting BankID and what are the underlying problems regarding this issue.

BankID is a very familiar concept for most Swedish residents – however, this is not the case for internationals. “You can almost do everything with just a bank account in South Africa. You don’t need an extra layer of security” says Amanda Mpedi who is a master’s student in International Human rights law from Cape Town.

Most internationals realize the importance of BankID once they arrive in Sweden and it immediately becomes an issue that they need to put in the time and effort to solve. “The university [Lund University, editors’ note] is willing to help. You can contact the international desk in order to get information about the BankID” says Enver Lee, a bachelor’s student in Physics from Singapore. “Information is there. However, you have to take the time out of your studies and get it” Amanda Mpedi fills in. “I was lucky to have Swedish classmates, I got to ask them a lot about BankID… We’d all be lost if I only had international friends”.

It was one of those moments where I felt like I am not going to experience Sweden fully until I get BankID.

BankID has so many functions such as identification in health services, which became a huge issue when the Swedish government recommended covid vaccine requirement at public events. During the covid restrictions, vaccine passes could be accessed by using BankID which many internationals did not have.

Online payments are another great function of the app. Swish, the most popular mobile payment system in Sweden, uses BankID to identify their users. Unfortunately, not everyone can take advantage of Swish. For instance, once Amanda Mpedi was out with her friends and the place that they were at only accepted Swish, “It was one of those moments where I felt like I am not going to experience Sweden fully until I get BankID.”

Swedish citizens are assigned a personal number at birth whereas international students have to apply for one and in some cases, the whole process can take up to 6 months. This was the case for Leonardo Carrera who is a master’s student in Machine learning in systems and control from Quito. He was especially frustrated with the opening hours of certain institutions such as ​​Skatteverket and Migrationsverket. “They open at 10.00 and close at 16.00… I don’t have the time to go there all the time”, says Leonardo Carrera. 

When Enver Lee applied to get a bank account, it took time and required that some documents be sent back and forth via physical mail. “I felt like I was back in the 1980s” says Enver Lee. He, Leonardo Carrera and Amanda Mpedi all agree that it would be simpler if international students and researchers could have  a simpler application process.