EU antitrust authorities have launched an investigation into whether Dutch and Polish banking associations and their members are blocking FinTech companies from accessing customer account data.
According to a Reuters news report, spokesmen from both associations confirmed that the two bodies were the targets of dawn raids by the European Commission last week. Representatives of the German, British and French banking bodies said they were not raided.
The European Commission announced last week it had conducted the inspections. While it didn’t name a specific company, an EU statement said that the companies involved “may have engaged in anti-competitive practices in breach of EU antitrust rules.”
These practices could have then prevented non-bank competitors from gaining online access to customer account information in order to provide financial services – even after they received prior authorization from the customers.
The investigation is focusing on whether banks and their national industry associations acted as a cartel or abused their dominance. Companies found guilty of breaching EU antitrust rules face fines of up to 10 percent of their global turnover.
The Commission has been working to attract more FinTech companies in an effort to catch up with the United States and China. As a result, it requires banks to provide customer data to competing services. There is also a greater sense of urgency since Britain’s withdrawal from the EU – and more than 80 percent of the bloc’s FinTech market is based in Britain.
But FinTech businesses have found banks to be reluctant to share customer data, while proposed regulatory rules, such as higher liquidity and capital buffers, are also seen as barriers.
The inspections are a preliminary step into suspected practices that may not result in formal accusations.