Stateless refugees cannot still open bank accounts in regions like Etelä-Savo in Eastern Finland, according to Länsi-Savo, a Mikkeli-based daily. Not only are stateless persons affected but different municipalities that want to attract foreign investment. Some small- and medium-sized companies that want to relocate in Finland from Russia have a difficult time opening bank account as well.
Migrant Tales understands that there is no standard procedure for opening a bank account in Finland for stateless persons, who cannot confirm their original identity. Some branch offices not only permit stateless persons to open bank accounts but have access to online banking.
According to Länsi-Savo, opening a bank account in Mikkeli has become more difficult, if not impossible.
If a stateless person cannot open a bank account, it effectively means that he or she cannot be paid assistance by the state. In order to avoid such a problem, municipalities like Mikkeli cannot accept refugees from Syria, according to a municipal employee who works with refugees.
The most outrageous aspect of this policy is that there aren’t any standard rule but instead allows bank to treat people on a one-to-one basis. Some stateless refugees in cities like Kouvola and Tampere haven’t had problems in opening bank accounts and even getting online banking services.
Last year I encountered this problem head on when I went to Nordea bank in Mikkeli with a stateless person. After a few questions, the bank employee said that the person needs a valid passport to open an account at that bank. But if on that passport it reads ”his/her identity cannot be confirmed,” the person can never open an account at Nordea.
I asked the Nordea employee what could be done.
“Why don’t you go to OP bank,” she said. “I’ve read in Länsi-Savo [the local paper] that such persons can open accounts at that bank.”
Surprised by what I was hearing, I asked the bank employee if she was serious.
“Why do they [OP bank] have one set of rules and you have another?” I asked. “Don’t you think it is pretty incredible that you are sending a potential client to the competition?”
The bank employee didn’t answer my question.
Let’s say that the person is lucky and is able to open a bank account but cannot get online banking services. That’s how Finns did their banking over two decades ago. They stood in lines and asked the bank teller to pay their bills.
Even in getting banking services, some immigrants are second-class members of this society.
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