This week's All Points North podcast asks why some Finnish banks ask customers for a hefty deposit before they open an account — and why some banks are quicker than others to repay it when the account is closed.
Sami Tanskanen from the University of Eastern Finland says banking issues become pressing every September as Finland fills with international students, and this year the customer-owner fees have come to the fore.
"They kind of admitted that it might pose some problems for students who might leave the country before the cycle was up, so I was quite convinced that international students or foreigners in general were not the first people they thought of when they designed these policies," said Tanskanen.
No bank can decline to open a basic bank account, but there can be hefty monthly fees attached to those accounts. Some banks waive the fees for 'customer-owners' — that is, people who have paid a deposit for a share of the bank.
You can listen to the full podcast using the embedded player here, via Yle Areena, Spotify (siirryt toiseen palveluun) or Apple Podcasts (siirryt toiseen palveluun) or on your usual podcast player using the RSS feed (siirryt toiseen palveluun).
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Of the two big banks that offer customer-ownership, S-Bank makes it easier to recover the deposit payment — saying they repay it in cash when the account is closed.
OP, on the other hand, makes customers wait 1-2 years before they get their cash returned. And as it must be paid into a Finnish account, the account-holder must pay the monthly fees for the period between resigning as a customer-owner and the return of their investment.
S-Bank might seem like a better proposition, then — but they don't offer service in English. Tanskanen said that is an issue more widely on his patch in Kuopio and Joensuu.
"I think the issue stems from the lack of English-speaking staff and the general downscaling of bank services, which is affecting especially English speakers in our area," said Tanskanen.
APN also asked the regulator what you should do if — like one APN listener — you are told by a bank you have a 'suspicious nationality'. The answer was clear: make a complaint. You can do that via the Financial Ombudsman, Fine (siirryt toiseen palveluun).
Facebook "often antagonistic"
As many listeners may know, Yle News stopped allowing comments on many of its Facebook posts back in April.
The goal was to stop the increasing shift of reporting time to social media moderation for our staff, and find better ways to communicate with the audience.
Since then the Canadian public broadcaster CBC has made a similar move, and concerns have grown about Facebook's role in a fractious global media system.
APN asked Paul Reilly, a Senior Lecturer in Social Media & Digital Society at the University of Sheffield, what makes Facebook a problematic forum for online discussions.
"I think it encourages instant reaction, Reilly explained. "Most people who comment on things or respond to things do so in a hurry in an emotional state. And often the content that gets pushed towards them that they comment on is often designed to trigger that emotional response. It's often antagonistic."
The problem is strongly linked to the platform, rather than users themselves. Facebook encourages certain behaviours and it might not be willing or able to change its systems to become a more constructive place.
"Perhaps they can't," said Reilly. "They are commercial platforms and we have to always bear that in mind. They're not public service and they're not motivated by that, so perhaps it is a big ask to expect that they could self-regulate to address these problems satisfactorily."
This week's show was presented by Egan Richardson and Zena Iovino. The producer was Ronan Browne and the audio engineer was Joonatan Kotila.
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