Finarea S.A. is a Swiss company based in Lugano (here the Finarea registration in the Commercial Register of the Canton Ticino)
They specialize in discount phone services and offer different types of services, under different names in different European markets:
- Call-by-call using a single equal-access code: you register a credit card with them, as well as the phone number from which you are going to make calls, and then dial calls using a short equal-access provider code. Charges for calls are made up of a small per-call charge (i.e. 5 cents) plus a per-minute charge which for some destinations may be 0 or 1 cent. In some countries no registration is necessary and calls are billed via the normal phone company bill.
- Call-by-call using shared-revenue access numbers: more expensive then the first type but works without registration and is thus not limited to a specific phone line. Calls are billed via the normal phone company bill
- Call-by-call using top-up by premium numbers. If calls are then made via an 800 number, this may be cheaper than type 2, but if calls have to be made via a normal “local” phone number, it may well end up costing more than you would pay when using your regular provider. The above system is useful in the UK or other European countries, where 'unmetered or unlimited' telephone call packages (to local or national landlines only) are rapidly becoming the norm from conventional telephony providers. Therefore a call to the access number will cost the caller nothing on top of their monthly line rental.
- VoIP Services — these are now all handled by Betamax, which may or may not be a separate entity from Finarea.
Some of their Type-1 services require the use of a credit card. Since about September 2005, this causes trouble for US citizens temporarily resident in one of their markets who wish to use a US credit card to pay for the service. As part of fraud prevention measures introduced by US credit card companies they seem to have decided that a US card holder has no business paying phone service in Europe and reject the charges. Finarea have been urged to introduce PayPal prepayment as an option; so far this has not happened.
Some users suspect that Finarea is in the business mainly to collect user’s data to sell for telemarketing purposes. I have been a mostly satisfied customer for over a year now and have not noticed any telemarketing activity which I could trace back to Finarea.
Their payments are handled by Bibit, a Holland-based subsidiary of Royal Bank of Scotland.
Please contact us if you have anything useful to add or any correction to make to this information.