Orwellian thoughts about Pohjola Bank

I have mentioned before that 2 banks, Nordea and OP-banks control over 60% of the banking market here. This is oligopoly by any reasonable standard, and should be challenged. There is no banking group in Europe with such a large market share. In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority has just started an investigation into competition for personal bank accounts and small business banking. The largest banks there have a 12% market share and that is regarded by many to be excessive.

Now we learn that Pohjola Bank is going to extend its own business in banking and insurance into medical care. The news is disquieting because the group will have so much information on personal bank accounts, on spending habits, on insurance policies and on medical records of ordinary people, some of whom may not even be direct bank clients.

Privacy is a cherished right but that right is weakened if a commercial giant has so much detailed information within its walls. I do not believe that regulators can control privacy effectively when companies grow this big. Surely we do not want what George Orwell describes in 1984, “Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull.”

We all know that banks look out first for their profits and bonuses. The well-being of its clients and “patients” is secondary. And we all know what happens when banks control too much – haven’t we just come out of the biggest economic crisis in living memory. This was a crisis caused by bankers’ greed and stupidity – that I can definitely say with hindsight.

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