Bank Identity: Banks, ID Cards, and the Emergence of a Financial Identification Society in Sweden

2018 Enterprise & Society  
Today, nearly the entire adult population in Sweden uses a digital BankID for more purposes than only financial ones. Issuing identity documents is commonly perceived as a task for state authorities, but in Swedish society banks have played a dominant role as identificators. The first contribution of this article is that it explains this unique emergence of bank identity and traces the historical roots of a financial identification society to the mid-1960s. Banks started issuing standardized
more » ... ntity cards as a complement to the new system of paying salaries and wages by direct deposit to checking accounts, and these cards eventually became quasi-official identity documents. The Swedish story thus contrasts the scholarship on identification and state control. By treating identity as both a socio-cultural category and a materialization of a technology of control, I argue that the formalization of official identity documents for everyday use was intertwined with the creation of new financial identities. The introduction and general distribution of ID cards were parts of a process whereby wage earners became financial consumers, and the banks transformed themselves into retail companies. My second contribution therefore relates to the scholarly narrative on the financialization of everyday life since the 1980s. While the mass move to financial identification in Sweden, highlighted in this article, certainly fits the content of this narrative, it questions its chronology.
doi:10.1017/eso.2017.43 fatcat:bik5m2fpmba5zfz7swekbxd4km