The Panel argued strongly for the financial services regulator to be given effective competition powers to enable it to deliver its statutory objectives, and was pleased that a competition objective and wider competition powers were given to the FCA under the Financial Services Act 2012 and the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013.
The Panel expects that, with its new remit, the FCA will be far better equipped to get to grips with underlying market issues that prevent effective competition, in particular in the market for payment systems and bank accounts.
Opening up UK payments Effective competition is the key driver for opening up UK payment systems. We welcomed the Government’s decision to establish a new payments systems regulator (PSR) within the FCA, and look forward to its formal launch in April 2015.
Given the fundamentally important role payment systems play in modern society and the integrity of the financial system as a whole, effective oversight that promotes and stimulates competition within it is vitally important. We would like the PSR to ensure that payments systems operate in the interests of consumers, competition in this area is promoted and the disadvantages and weaknesses in the current self‑regulatory approach are addressed.
Cross-subsidies in personal current accounts
We believe that the current business model prevalent in UK retail banking – cross-selling on the back of a “free” current account – leads to opaque cross-subsidies that prevent consumers from fully understanding how much they are paying for their account.
We have published a study on the effect of cross subsidies on different groups of consumers, in order to open up a debate about whether the current model serves all consumers well.
Competition & Markets Authority (CMA)
As the successor to the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission, the CMA has given a commitment to provide continuity by ensuring that legacy cases from its predecessors form a significant part of its workload. We are particularly keen to ensure that the key deliverables from the OFT’s market study into defined contribution pension schemes are not lost.
We hope to see the CMA developing close working relationships with the FCA, as well as engaging in a robust stakeholder strategy which actively involves and gleans intelligence from varied and diverse consumer groups.