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ACM study – Fintechs in the payment system: the risk of foreclosure

19-12-2017

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) believes it is important that the financial sector sees more competition and innovation. New providers with innovative technologies, called ‘fintechs’, are the driving force behind modernizing the financial sector. In its study “Fintechs in the payment system,” ACM looks at the position of fintechs in the payment services system. Banks possess information that fintechs need in order to be able to offer their services. One of ACM’s conclusions is that there is a genuine risk of foreclosure of these new providers.

That is why ACM will keep a close watch on whether or not banks offer providers of new payment products access to payment information. If necessary, ACM can take enforcement action against anticompetitive practices, on the basis of its powers laid down in the Dutch Competition Act. In addition, ACM presents several recommendations for reducing the risk of foreclosure:

  • Where the European rules leave scope for differences in the implementation and interpretation of the conditions under which access must be provided, it is for the regulatory bodies to define those conditions more precisely. That scope, where it exists, should logically be exercised by the Dutch central bank DNB. ACM has considerable experience with regulating access to markets, for example in the telecom sector, and would be more than willing to share its expertise.
  • The European Commission allows banks to receive compensation amounting to a maximum of the efficient costs they have to incur to arrange access for other parties. Requiring banks to grant access free of charge could give banks an incentive to exclude fintechs.
  • In line with the government’s wishes expressed in the coalition agreement, a banking license ‘light’ should be introduced for fintechs. With such licenses, fintechs would be able to offer their own payment accounts, and gain direct access to the underlying payment systems of the Dutch central bank.
  • A safeguard that, in the development of instant payments infrastructures in Europe, fintechs will be able to participate directly in the systems and agreements for clearing and settlement on equal and objective conditions.