News Column

BBA Report Calls on Ministers and Regulators to Help Nurture Challenger Banks

June 24, 2014



LONDON, June 24 -- The British Bankers' Association issued the following news release:

To register for today's Competition in Banking conference please click here (https://www.bba.org.uk/event/banking-environment/competition-in-banking/).

The BBA today urges ministers and regulators to implement an action plan to support competition in the banking industry.

Banks already compete vigorously for customers, but the BBA's report Promoting competition in the UK banking industry (https://www.bba.org.uk/news/reports/promoting-competition-in-the-uk-banking-industry/) identifies ways to encourage new players to set up and grow.

The study identifies key problems facing new entrants and suggests policies to address each of these issues:

* Level the capital playing field: Rules laying down how much capital banks should hold disproportiantly restrict challengers. Capital levels for challengers should be less onerous, the report suggests.

* Funding: Local authorities and Government departments do not make deposits in challenger banks. The report recommends that there should be no barriers to restrict the public sector from investing funds in these emerging banks.

* Fair pricing of payments: Some challengers say that gaining access to the payments system used by banks can be too expensive and a barrier to entry. This deserves detailed, evidenced based analysis which the new Payments System Regulator will be well placed to conduct

* Proportiante regulation: Regulators need to think more about how regulation impacts smaller players. The report recommends more "proportionality" from regulators, with less substantial banks not obliged to meet the standards imposed on their larger peers for every regulation.

In recent years new airlines and supermarkets have increased the variety of goods and services offered to millions of customers.

James Barty, the BBA's Director of Strategy, said: "Customers are the biggest winners from competition. You just have to look at how easyJet, Ocado and Lidl have shaken up their industries by providing new goods, services and price structures.

"The banking industry is made up of a number of different markets, each with its own range of providers striving to win customers every day. Many of these markets are already extremely competitive but we want ministers and regulators to make it easier for emerging banks to set up and grow.

"The best way to promote competition is by creating a more level playing field for players of all shapes and size. It's vital that we don't treat all banking markets as the same and introduce rules, regulations and costs that smother changes that are already driving competition."

Recent YouGov polling, commissioned by the BBA, shows that nearly six times as many customers (57%) believe that banks offered them enough choice of products and services than did not think so (10%). Only 25% of consumers saw competition in banking as a key issue and just 11% cited problems with switching as a cause for concern.

The polling also found that only 14% had a negative view of their bank 60% said they did not want to switch because they were happy with their bank account.

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