The lives of stateless persons in Finland isn’t easy by a long shot. On the one hand we want newcomers to adapt to our society but deny them a basic right like opening a bank account. Think for a moment how complicated life would be without a bank account.
If you are a stateless person and lucky enough to open a bank account, you may not have access to online banking. This means that every bill you get must be paid at the bank for a fee.
Thirty years ago Finns paid their bills this way.
Not everyone can open a bank account in Finland. Only people who have a valid document. Banks consider a passport a valid document.
Just like society punishes you for belonging to a minority, the lives of stateless persons are penalized because they came from war-torn countries.
Some employees at banks like Sampo appear to make their own rules. One stateless person with a passport told me that a teller said she could not open a bank account because she didn’t have a driver’s license!
I know of one case where a stateless person has travelled over 100 kilomters to his hometown to get money from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela). The journey by train implies spending a chunk of his small monthly earnings, never mind the time lost, in doing something that would take a few seconds at an ATM machine.
There’s some hope on the way. The ministry of interior wants to change matters so it would be easier for newly arrived immigrants to get an id card with which to get a debit card from the bank, according to YLE.
How long will it take before this very important issue is addressed effectively by the bank and state authorities?
Because it appears that the aim of these two institutions is to make life as difficult as possible for these people, don’t expect anything soon to happen.