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Thursday's papers: Deferred e-payment updates, asthma prevention and a hangman's noose

Finland's press looks at reluctance to comply with e-commerce rules, resistance-building bacteria, and hate mail.

Abdirahim Husu Hussein
Abdirahim "Husu" Hussein poses with the hate mail he received. Image: Reeta Salminen / Yle

Finland's most widely-read newspaper Helsingin Sanomat covers postponed changes to payment and banking standards that were set to shake up e-commerce in Europe.

The European Union's second payment services directive, designed to harmonise and improve existing rules for electronic payments, will enter into force in mid-September. In addition to imposing strict security requirements for e-payments across Europe, the new directive is also meant to open up markets and give consumers more choices.

HS writes that banks and companies throughout the EU have dragged their feet on implementation of the new rules that will, for example, make several current mobile services more complicated. The paper says the only firms that have eagerly adopted the changes in Finland are payday loan peddlers, as they are "eager to get their hands on customer bank information".

Three major changes are expected, HS says. First, lists of bank security codes for accessing online banking services will be phased out. Banks operating in Finland have come up with different alternatives, following differing timelines. At Nordea and Danske Bank, a mobile app that generates a security code will replace the lists, while OP bank will introduce a "mobile key" that is in effect an extra PIN code, the paper writes.

Second, consumers making purchases online will be required to jump through more hoops. Mobile services that allow commuters to buy tickets for public transportation with just one click, for example, will in future redirect buyers to an identification verification service before the transaction is approved. For items costing less than 30 euros, consumers will only have to verify every sixth purchase, HS writes.

The third main change will be an option allowing customers to authorise third-party merchants and authorities to access personal bank accounts and secure payments directly. The paper writes that interest in this area has been weak in Finland, as only six applicants have sought permission from the Financial Supervisory Authority to explore this alternative.

Kids benefit from more contact with dirt

Joensuu-based daily Karjalainen carries a STT story on a new study that concludes that exposure to microbes in the home wards off asthma in children.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) examined microbiota from over 400 Finnish homes and determined that those with larger amounts of bacteria from outdoors may reduce children's risk of developing asthma. The study says contemporary Finns spend 90 percent of their time indoors on average, leading to less contact with microbes from the natural world.

"In this study, we identified certain groups of bacteria found in soil that protect against asthma. These groups of bacteria provided more effective protection against asthma than the previously observed diversity of microbiota", senior THL researcher Anne Karvonen tells the paper.

She encourages families with small children to forgo rubber-coated urban playgrounds and regularly play in nature.

"Extremely offensive" letter

The Jyväskylä-based newspaper Keskisuomalainen reports on Social Democratic Helsinki city councillor Abdirahim "Husu" Hussein, who says he plans to file a crime report with the police after receiving a threatening letter containing a hangman's noose.

The paper says the message "referred to Hussein's ethnic background in an extremely offensive manner" and warned him not to interfere in the activities of Finnish politicians.

In July, the Somali-born politician created an uproar by tweeting that all Finns Party politicians, voters and supporters were racist. Several complaints, including from Finns Party MP Jouni Kotiaho and Nurmijärvi city councillor Maiju Tapiolinna, calling for an investigation were submitted to the police.

Helsinki police announced in early August that they would not be opening a pre-trial investigation into Hussein's tweet.

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