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Finland

The Finnish Financial Supervision (FFS), the authority supervising the Finnish securities market, issued on March 29 2001 an official statement regarding the offering of financial services over information networks. The use of the internet and other network systems as a means of offering financial services has grown rapidly in the recent years. The purpose of the statement is both to promote the generally accepted banking and marketing principles and to improve the safety of using financial network services.

In the statement the FFS advises companies offering financial services through networks to inform the FFS well in advance when planning to introduce a new network service or product or when substantially altering existing systems. Credit institutions, financial institutions and investment firms which have been authorized to offer financial services in a member state of the European Economic Area (EEA) are also allowed to offer such services in Finland without establishing a Finnish branch office. This also applies to the services offered through networks. However, before these services can be offered in or into Finland, the local supervision authority in the home state has to notify the FFS of the content and validity of the offeror's authorization. If the company offering financial services is not authorized in any member state of the EEA, the commencement of these activities in Finland is subject to an authorization granted by the Finnish Ministry of Finance.

According to the FFS, indications of the fact that financial services are offered via networks in Finland include, inter alia, that the services offered are in Finnish, the ending of the internet domain name is "fi", the contact information refers to Finland or the services are otherwise advertised in Finland.

The company offering the services is responsible for the technical reliability and the adequate capacity of the systems used. The data systems have to be sufficiently protected both against operating failures and possible misuse. When outsourcing technical facilities, the company offering financial services through networks has to assure that it still has the right to control these systems and to provide the FFS with the contingency to examine the systems.

Dimitrios Himonas

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