EU investigates possible Dutch and Polish blocking of fintech services

People are pictured outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels
People are pictured outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

October 9, 2017

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU antitrust authorities are investigating Dutch and Polish banking associations and their members to determine whether financial technology services are being blocked from accessing customer account data.

The two bodies were the targets of dawn raids by the European Commission last week, spokesmen from both associations confirmed on Monday.

The Commission said the investigation would focus on whether banks and their national industry associations acted as a cartel or abused their dominance.

Representatives of the German, British and French banking bodies said they were not raided.

The EU investigation comes amid efforts by the Commission to attract more financial technology, or fintech, companies to catch up with the United States and China. One of its directives requires banks to provide customer data to competing services.

Britain’s withdrawal from the EU has added urgency to the task because more than 80 percent of the bloc’s fintech market is based in Britain.

Fintech companies range from those offering mobile payment apps to digital currencies such as bitcoin. Still relatively small, the new players have been grabbing market share from traditional operators in payments and lending.

Amazon <AMZN.O>, for example, has provided $3 billion in loans since it launched its lending service for small businesses this year.

However, fintech businesses have found banks reluctant to share customer data while proposed regulatory rules such as higher liquidity and capital buffers are also seen as barriers.

Companies found guilty of breaching EU antitrust rules face fines of up to 10 percent of their global turnover.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by David Goodman)