FCA publishes update on wide-ranging review of retail banking sector

WiredGov UK | FCA | Jun 28, 2018

Retail banking FCA progress update - FCA publishes update on wide-ranging review of retail banking sectorThe Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) yesterday published an update on its Strategic Review of Retail Banking Business Models.

The Review is an in-depth and wide-ranging piece of work to give the FCA a greater understanding of retail banks’ business models, and how these may change in the future. This includes looking at how personal current accounts (PCAs) are paid for, the possible impact of technological and regulatory developments such as Open Banking and changes to payment services due to the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2). It sets out the progress made on the analysis of the issues and planned next steps.

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The review is also critical to the FCA’s work on overdrafts. The FCA has already expressed concerns that some potentially vulnerable people are paying significantly more for their current accounts through unarranged overdraft charges and fees. In May this year, the FCA proposed a set of potential changes on overdrafts for discussion as part of its high cost credit work and will consult on any changes later this year.

The review shows that most current account customers contribute to their bank’s profits, but a small proportion pay significantly more than others – around 10% of customers generate between a third and a half of all contributions to profits from current accounts. The data also show that many consumers go to their current bank rather than shopping around when looking for other financial products.

For example:

  • 52% of PCA customers with credit cards have one with their PCA provider;
  • 48% of PCA customers with personal loans have one with their PCA provider; and
  • 32% of PCA customers with mortgages have one with their PCA provider.

Andrew Bailey, FCA Chief Executive, said: “This is an important piece of work to help us understand the complexities of the retail banking market and how this may develop in the future.

“It provides more evidence that there is no such thing as free banking. In particular, this evidence will inform the work we are doing on overdrafts, so we can fully understand the potential effects of the significant action we are considering taking in this market.”

The FCA’s analysis shows some of the reasons why retail banking markets remain highly concentrated.  Major banks have a captive audience of customers who do not switch and can be cross-sold other products.  Together they have a large share of the PCA market, currently over 80%, giving them considerable competitive advantages.

Yesterday’s update also sets out a number of factors that could lead to significant changes in this overall picture of the market. In the next stage of the Review, we will look at a number of scenarios to assess when and how these changes may have an effect – including changing customer behaviour, regulatory initiatives, technological developments like Open Banking, and changes to banks’ business models such as branch closure programmes.

The FCA has collected information from 45 firms across the range of the market to inform the Review including major banks, small retail banks, building societies, specialist lenders and new digital banks.

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The FCA is asking for responses to this update, including evidence or views, by 7 September 2018. The next stage of the Review will look at a range of possible future scenarios, including what branch closure programmes mean for consumers and banks’ business models, and how technological and regulatory changes may affect the market.

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