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Finnish bank launches a credit card that lets users track their carbon footprint

Baltic Sea Credit Card

A small Finnish bank, Ålandsbanken, based on the autonomous Åland Islands but with offices in Finland and Sweden, is launching a new credit card to combat climate change.

Made of renewable raw materials

This new Baltic Sea Credit Card is made completely of renewable raw materials, is non-toxic and is biodegradable but that is not all: Card users will get an environmental report in their mobile app or internet bank account, effectively tracking the carbon footprint of their consumption. The bank hopes that increased transparency will contribute to changing daily habits to become more sustainable in the long run.

The environmental calculations of the card are based on the Åland Index developed by the Ålandsbanken. The index works on the basis of a category code provided by retailers to Mastercard enabling a value for the carbon footprint to be calculated on each transaction.

Peter Wiklöf, CEO of Ålandsbanken says: “The sea is never far away when you are based in the Åland islands, and we can’t avoid seeing the effects of pollution. In 2015 we launched the Baltic Sea Project, founded on our commitment to enable smart ideas for the environment. But we also wanted to give our customers the opportunity to contribute to the environment through their daily choices. Only if we all get involved will we be able to save the Baltic Sea”

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Increasing Demand from Property Investors for the Nordics

Catella is a leading specialist in property investments, fund management and banking, with operations in 12 countries across Europe. Catella recently published a Nordic Market Tracker.

Investment Opportunities

The Northern European property market is increasingly featuring in the pan-European real estate portfolios of institutional investors. Compared with other European countries, the economic transparency and prosperity of the markets in the Nordic countries makes them a popular option. Also, the availability of capital opens up new investment opportunities. Catella foresees these opportunities, especially for investments in the office and retail markets.

In general, some 90% of invested capital in the Nordic countries is based on domestic markets (Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland), with a high share of Swedish capital – but this will change. Demand from German, French and UK investors rose in the past three quarters, not least through pressure from capital markets to look for a stable income stream.

“Many markets offer clear potential for portfolio diversification. Copenhagen and Helsinki display a correlation that is slightly negative, as does Berlin. Stockholm’s correlation is below the level identified, for example, for the German cities of Cologne and Dusseldorf, and also from the perspective of Lisbon, Warsaw and London investors. Against this backdrop, combining a Nordic segment with a German, Spanish or Belgium office property segment could be a successful strategy for anyone interested in risk diversification,” explained Dr. Thomas Beyerle, Head of Group Research at Catella, talking about the investment strategy from an international perspective.

Catellas report concludes

Catellas report concludes: “The Nordic countries are not as homogeneous as international stereotypes often suggest. There are marked differences to be aware of when investing. Not only do investors need to know how Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland differ when it comes to their social, economic and political arenas, but there’s something else international observers should keep an eye on, as well: intra-Nordic investment patterns. This report thus concludes that the northern European countries represent enormous potential when it comes to diversifying multinational portfolios. Furthermore, they also demonstrate structural stability for long-term investors with multi-country and multi-asset funds/strategy.”

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Norway, the happiest, richest, and safest country

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The London-based think tank, the Legatum Institute, has again released its annual global Prosperity Index. This year’s index ranks Norway as the most prosperous country among 142 countries.

The index compares 89 variables including traditional indicators like per capita gross domestic product and the number of people in full-time work in addition to factors such as number of secure internet servers in the country and how well rested people feel on a day-to-day basis. The variables are then split into eight sub-indexes: economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital.

Norway has topped the Prosperity Index for the last past seven years. Norway is the only country ranked in the top 10 of every sub-index.

The other Nordic countries all received high rankings:

Denmark 3rd, after Switzerland (2nd), and second best when it comes to entrepreneurship and opportunity.

Sweden 5th, after New Zeeland (4th), ranks the best for entrepreneurship and opportunity and also fares well in safety and security. The country gained one place in this year’s index.

Finland 9th , ranked the third best in safety and security and fifth best in governance, however, the relatively poor economy has pushed the country down a rank from last year.

Iceland 12th , dropped a rank compared to last year, but ranks in the top five in three sub-indexes; personal freedom, entrepreneurship and opportunity and safety and security.

Would you be interested in expanding your business into this prosperous market?

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Sweden introduces a long awaited system for Tonnage Tax

Yesterday the Swedish government submitted a proposal to the Parliament for a tonnage tax system that allows Swedish shipping companies to operate under competitive conditions similar to other countries in Europe. The aim of the government is to increase the competitiveness of the Swedish merchant fleet and increase the number of Swedish flagged vessels.

“Tonnage tax has been eagerly awaited by the business community and I am pleased that we will now have a system of tonnage tax in place. I look forward to seeing more Swedish flag vessels.” says Magdalena Andersson, Minister for Finance.

Tonnage tax implies that the taxable income of qualified shipping operations are determined at a flat rate based on the net tonnage of the vessels, regardless of income and expenditure. One of the benefits of a tonnage tax system is that the tax matters will be less important for a shipping company’s investment decisions.

Tonnage tax will be optional. Shipping companies who wish to enter the tonnage tax system rather than being taxed conventionally will have to apply for tonnage tax in advance. An approval for tonnage tax will be valid until further notice. The company may as a rule, leave the system at the earliest after ten fiscal years.

The new provisions would enter into force on 20 July 2016 and applied for the first time for fiscal years beginning after December 31, 2016. One condition is that the European Commission approves the proposed rules.

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Stockholm – The “Capital of Scandinavia”?

This slogan and brand launched by Stockholm Business Region in 2005 is understandably controversial. The Danes and Norwegians call it “Typical Swedish megalomania”. Naturally, there is no such thing as a capital of Scandinavia just as there is no capital of Europe.

The main arguments for Stockholm being the “Capital of Scandinavia”, according to Stockholm Business Region are
• Central – Stockholm is centrally located and is the largest city in Scandinavia
• Business – Stockholm is the economic center of Scandinavia
• Culture – Stockholm sets the tone of arts and culture in Scandinavia

The Nordic market only, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland, makes up the 11th largest economy of the world, with a remarkably high level of purchasing power. Looking at a map of the region one can see that Sweden is an ideal location, serving as a gateway to three markets: The Nordic countries (25 million consumers), the Baltic Sea region (100 million consumers) and the European Union (more than 500 million consumers).

A recent report by Stockholm Business region based on an analysis of Forbes Global 2000 companies presence in the Nordic region concludes that among the Forbes Global 2000 companies that have established operations in the Nordic region with regional headquarters, about 64 percent have chosen to locate their regional headquarters in Sweden, 20 percent in Denmark and 8 and 9 percent in Norway and Finland respectively.

Despite the refugee crisis, negative interest rates and some regional housing shortage the Swedish economy is booming this year. Sweden continues to rank as one of the most competitive, productive and globalized countries in the world.

Have you considered setting up a Nordic presence for your business? Would “The Capital of Scandinavia” be your location of choice? Perhaps Oslo or Helsinki would be alternatives to consider as well? The Scandicorp group has a presence and offices in all three cities. Feel free to contact us for further information at www.scandicorp.com.

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Nordea Bank launches platform for crowdfunding

Sweden’s Nordea Bank, the largest bank in the Nordic region, is launching a platform for crowdfunding where individuals can participate in the financing of unlisted companies through purchasing shares in such companies. The bank appears to be taking up the fight against startups in the fintech business.

The platform is being announced today in Finland, where the Finnish Crowdfunding Act is scheduled to come into force in July 2016. According to the Bank’s Twitter account, the platform will be announced in Sweden tomorrow in connection with the quarterly report.

Crowdfunding and crowdlending have become popular in the Nordic region. In Sweden, examples are Fundedbyme , Toborrow , Pepins , Tessin and Kameo, all of which have entered the business from slightly different different angles. These players have been able to act undisturbed by major banks for more than five years , but now Nordea becomes the first traditional bank to embark in the crowdfunding area .

Nordea on Twitter

Photo: Outi Järvinen/Kl/Arkisto

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Invest in Sweden! Economic Boom, Lower Unemployment and Increasing Exports

Time to invest in Sweden? Yesterday, Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson raised the economic growth forecast for 2016 and predicted narrowing deficits in the coming years as an economic boom helps the nation cope with a record influx of asylum seekers.

Gross domestic product will expand 3.8 percent in 2016 and 2.2 percent in 2017, compared with December forecasts of 3.1 percent and 2.6 percent respectively, the Stockholm-based Finance Ministry said in a statement. It now predicts budget deficits of 0.4 percent of GDP in 2016 and 0.7 percent in 2017, compared with earlier forecasts of 0.9 percent and 0.8 percent.

The growth forecast is one percent higher than the forecast presented in connection with the 2016 budget last fall. Growth is now higher than in the United States, Germany and Great Britain. Unemployment is at its lowest level in seven years and Sweden gains market shares on international export markets.

The finance minister expressed worries that despite the good outlook there are some risks associated with the present state of the economy in the close trading partners Finland and Norway.

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Swedish business culture advice from random Swede

Edit: The video is no longer available.

“You will soon be connected to a random Swede, somewhere in Sweden.” 250 years ago Sweden was the first country to abolish censorship. Now Sweden is the first country with its own phone number. Call the Swedish number on +46 771 793 336 and a random Swede will pick up the phone. Why not call the Swedish number when you need some Swedish business culture advice for your next business meeting?

A bit of Swedish business culture

Swedes are very punctual and direct, laid back but yet efficient, Swedes take business seriously. You should never be late. If you must be late for some reason it is polite to phone and let the other person know. Being late is seen as poor etiquette. You may think twice before ordering a glass of wine at your next business lunch. When you are doing business in Sweden you can expect to address a person by his or her first name. Don’t forget handshake is the accepted form of greeting.

Interested to invest in Sweden?

Contact Scandicorp direct on +46 8 122 041 45 or send an e-mail to our Nordic Business Development Director Till Sahlgren: till.sahlgren@scandicorp.com. He is English, Swedish and Finnish speaking.

Free Fact Sheet about doing business in Sweden:

Sweden Corporate fact Sheet

Fill the form below to get access to the PDF:
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Member of the Finnish-Swedish Chamber of Commerce

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Scandicorp is today a member of the Finnish-Swedish Chamber of Commerce (FINSVE). The Chamber of Commerce helps especially small and medium sized Finnish businesses in entering the Swedish market. Scandicorp is convinced that many Finnish companies would benefit greatly from a presence in neighboring Sweden. Scandicorp will happily help with company formation and related accounting and management services. Read more about our services www.scandicorp.com/services/

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A lesson in Swedish

An Englishman named Colin Moon stated some of the most common polite phrases in Swedish. Read and learn.

The Swede is a person of few words.

Eng: Excuse me, I didn’t quite catch what you were saying.
Swe: Va? (vah?)
Literal translation: What?

Eng: Sorry for bumping into you like that. So terribly clumsy of me.
Swe: Oj! (oi!)
Literal translation: Oh!

Eng: It’s you! How lovely to see you!
Swe: Nej, men! (nay men)
Literal translation: No, but!

Eng: How are things with you?
Swe: Annars? (an ass)
Literal translation: Otherwise?

Eng: Excuse me, may I disturb you for a second?
Swe: Du
Literal translation: You

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