The Cooperative banking group here in Finland has decided that it needs to own and operate hospitals and own and operate car rentals because they see a limited future for profitable banking. This banking group is joined at the hip to the Centre Party, (one big party in Finland’s government), and is allowed to have market share of almost 40%!
Banks fail to deliver trouble-free banking. Post Offices does not deliver on time. Big retail giants just increase their market shares… Rotten networks need better regulation
But even this market share, with its high costs, cannot ensure a banking system that works every day. You may recall that they had some 8 -10 blackouts during each of the last 2 years, and so far this year they appear to be on track for the same poor result. Last week they closed down their banks for several hours because of a serious computer glitch about which no information was given.
Nordea Bank, the other duopolist here, also had problems keeping their service open last week…
With 2 banks enjoying such huge market shares, one would think that the Competition Regulator would do something!
The S-Group was also in the news this week announcing that they also have a 40% market share of all retail business, and they intend to build yet another “Super-Sized Supermarket” in Helsinki! This group is also very close to the Centre Party – you could correctly say that they are married, but then that would be polygamy!
The Kesko Group (K-Group), the other giant retailer here in Finland, also has a similar share of the market throughout the whole country giving these 2 charmers 80% of all retail business. The K-Group are near to the Conservative Party alongside Nordea. Both K-Group has deep pockets that are useful in getting good deals for zoning arrangements for new shops with local politicians.
The banks do not need office space as much as the retail giants. It is sufficient for the banks to grease to political wheels with generous donations at election time.
And then there is the dear old Post Office that has recently decided that letters may arrive (if they actually do arrive) 3, 4, and even 5 days after posting! Many magazines, letters and small packages arrive at our doorsteps late or not at all. It is little wonder that the Post Office is being challenged by UPS, DHL, Bing, etc., because they just do not seem to understand that service is service, and that you cannot complain about falling volumes if you do not offer a reliable service.
The above problems we have with our national services are pitiful because there is a true lack of competition where big companies can get away with poor service or no service without sanction.
In this Finnish political arena there is only limited leeway for brave competition regulators to act if you want to keep your job and your departments’ budget, which, like most regulators, has not seen any inflation adjusted growth in their budget allotment.
And it is not only the in the domestic markets and networks where we see problems.
But when looking at the global arena almost nothing appears to be happening to protect us folk from these cheats, these criminals and those who just don’t care, so long as they collect their dimes…
The challenges in international digital services are so big that it is beyond belief that so many politicians are banking on the new digital world without seeing our weak defences against wrongdoing.
Hacking, global failures with software security (Window’s 7, for example), ubiquitous malware, terrorist activities, identity theft, online crime with untraceable bitcoin payments, money laundering, and false promises from shady operators selling junk and fake goods. All of these are so bad and yet what happens? Facebook, Google, Twitter, Amazon, Ebay and many others just get a slap on the wrist…
Politicians in the national governments and in the EU must not get too cosy with the big companies because that is eating away at our democratic foundations. They must take a stand against the big companies at the national level if we see little effort coming out of the EU, which is certainly the case as it stands today.
Read other news on the city site of Helsinki.