ERFF Update on EU Retail Financial Services
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ERFF: European Retail Financial Forum

RFS Spotlight February 2017

Monthly EU Retail Financial Services update

Since its launch in October 2015, ERFF has been working with representatives of business, consumers, and EU policymakers to create consensus on value-added ways to open up EU retail financial services (RFS) markets. ERFF’s RFS Spotlight brings you news on EU RFS policy, events, and creating benefits for customers and industry.

FinTech: “not an era of change but a change of era”

So said MEP Cora van Nieuwenhuizen in her introductory remarks at the ERFF workshop on FinTech in retail financial services, 9 February 2017. Over 40 participants from consumer organisations, business, the European Commission and the European Parliament agreed that FinTech can enable increased competition, lower prices, easier access to services and products, greater choice, and wider financial inclusion – benefiting consumers and business.

However, as participants heard, Europe is far from being in pole position. There's much to do in building consumer trust; data sharing and open banking; security and privacy; and in areas such as robo-advice and distributed ledger technology, as well as harmonised supervision and regulations across Member States. Speakers included: Delphine Leroy, DG FISMA, member of the EC Financial Technology Task Force; Farid Aliyev, BEUC (European Consumers’ Organisation) and Thomas Bunnik of FinTech company, Pritle. Summary.


A draft of MEP Cora van Nieuwenhuizen’s Own Initiative report FinTech: influence of technology on the future of the financial sector for the EP ECON committee is now available online.

Elsewhere, a report entitled Open Banking: A consumer perspective, published in January 2017, sets out the “fantastic” opportunities for consumers and SMEs, while recognising potential for “conflicts of interest” and “asymmetries of power”. Written by Faith Reynolds, member of the UK Financial Services Consumer Panel and former government advisor, the report describes what open banking is, its benefits, and associated social, competitive, security and regulatory issues.

On 20 February, the European Commission launched a call for new expert members of the Financial Services User Group (FSUG). The FSUG advises on the Capital Markets Union, particularly retail investment products, and will also give a view on implementation of the Commission’s Retail Financial Services Action Plan (see Coming up). Members include consumers, retail investors, microenterprises and trade unions. Deadline for applications: 21 April 2017.

Earlier on 14 February, the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU and the European Parliament announced an agreement on a programme to better involve consumers of financial services in policymaking. Two NGOs will receive grants to encourage consumers and other end-users to give input into sectoral EU policymaking. Edward Scicluna, Maltese Minister for Finance, stated: “As much as regulators, consumers are well placed to judge the suitability of the financial product or service, and can contribute actively to policy making."

Coming up…    

15 March 2017:Think Forward Initiative Summit, Munich. The Think Forward Initiative (TFI) is a multi-year movement that brings together a range of experts and research to find out how and why people make financial choices, then use the lessons learned as a springboard for action to help consumers. Registration closes 1 March.

23 March 2017: EC conference #FinTechEU Is EU regulation fit for new financial technologies? The conference will bring together prominent fintech actors and will be divided into three 'Roundtable' discussions : Technology: how is it transforming finance? Regulatory and supervisory innovation. Cybersecurity.

May 2017: European Commission conference with particular focus on distributed ledger technology. Details to be confirmed.

EC RFS Action Plan – Now expected mid-March or early April according to our sources. Main headings are likely to be: (i) digitalization, e-ID, innovation hubs, disclosure of information, (ii) Consumer dimension – better products, more choice, more information, (iii) overcoming national barriers.

About ERFF

The European Retail Financial Forum (ERFF) brings together around one table consumers, business and policymakers to support the opening up of retail financial markets in Europe. Representing all aspects of the retail sector – traditional, wider investment and digital – we are customer-focused, favour removing key barriers, and increasing choice and transparency for all in ways that keep Europe competitive.

For further information, please contact us at:

ERFF Secretariat

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