Swish: the unique nature of Swedish payment app

If the phrase “swish it to me” puzzles you, this article is a must-read

Swish: the unique nature of Swedish payment app. Source:

While some people associate the word “swish” only with a catchy pop song, the term has recently become emblematic for the Swedish fintech sector.

Back in 2012 six major national banks launched a new payment service. Its customer base reached a staggering number of 6.5 million users by 2018 and it has kept on growing steadily. In fact, it is the most popular fintech app in the country. At least half of the Swedish population uses Swish on a daily basis.

So what exactly is Swish and why is it called such a funny name?

In short, it’s a P2P app created by reputable financial institutions. It is free and instant. The whole transaction process takes just a few seconds. Thus, it has a memorable name that actually means “a rapid swinging movement with a hissing or rushing sound”. Who needs cash when you can pay anyone with your mobile phone in the blink of an eye?

How to use Swish?

If you need to transfer money through Swish, all you enter is the mobile number of the recipient, the required transaction sum, and some comments if you wish. The payment should then be confirmed in a pop-up Mobile BankID window. The convenience of this payment system is that it shows a counterpart’s name along with the profile picture before you confirm a transfer. This way, senders can make doubly sure they have entered the right number. You can additionally inform the recipient about the transfer via SMS too. All that is free of charge.

The app functions on Android 5.0 and up. Source:

The app functions on Android 5.0 and up. Its interface is intuitive so that every generation of users can easily learn the ropes of Swish transactions. It only works together with a second mobile application called Mobilt BankID Säkerhetsapp which is used for bank authentication.

Paying to friends and relatives is not the only option here. Since the app has gained enormous popularity, small businesses have begun to use it along with individuals. Therefore, the company decided to extend its activities to the realm of e-commerce.

Swish for e-commerce

In 2017 a new eCommerce app was presented. Now Swish allows legal people, traders, associations, and organizations to receive Swish payments from private individuals. It’s especially advantageous for those businesses which don’t have a card reader. They can generate unique QR-codes in order to enable such payments. Any merchant can appoint up to 5 employees able to login to an administrative GUI connected to the security solution. Only they can modify seller’s accounts and digital security certificates.

For commercial partners, Swish usage is a paid service. Companies and registered organizations pay a yearly fee. In addition, Swish charges sellers about 2 SEK (depending on the relevant bank) per received payment. Merchants are not allowed to charge the customer for their Swish fee. Hence, for customers, the Swish e-commerce experience is as smooth as interpersonal transactions.

The use of the app is currently limited to internal national transactions. It uses SEK as its acting currency. The average maximum amount for transfers is about SEK 20,000 ($2,200). In exceptional cases, users can temporarily increase the amount to SEK 150,000 ($16,485).

All users need to own a bank account in a Swedish bank participating in the system, as well as a national ID number. Users who have no suitable phone for installing the required apps, but do have a proper bank account, can register for the reception of payments too. The phone number used for transactions can belong to another country, though.

All those peculiarities are stipulated by the unique nature of this Swedish payment app. It is one of the rare examples of a successful fintech consumer product built that didn’t involve any VC-backed third party. It was exclusively designed by the consolidated efforts of financial institutions.


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