On 3 October 2017, the European Commission carried out dawn raids on banking associations and banks of several Member States in relation to access to bank account information by competing service providers.

Polish and Dutch banking associations were the target of these unannounced inspections, which are led by Commission officials, accompanied by representatives of national competition authorities.

Dawn raids were also conducted on other unnamed banks, which are members of both associations. German, British, Belgian and French banking bodies confirmed that they had not been raided.

The Commission suspects that they are excluding non-bank-owned providers of financial services by preventing them from gaining access to bank customers’ account data, despite the fact that the customers concerned had agreed to such access. The Commission considers such practices to be a potential infringement of EU antitrust law, either as a cartel or an abuse of a dominant position.

The Commission is particularly sensitive to this issue as it wants to attract more financial technology – fintech. Directive (EU) 2015/2366 of the European Parliament and the Council of 25 November 2015 on payment services in the internal market – known as the Payment Services Directive II – places an obligation on banks to allow third parties to access bank account data with the customer’s consent. The Directive, which entered into force at the end of 2015, will have to be implemented into national laws by 13 January 2018 at the latest. 

The Commission will now analyse the findings of its dawn raids. The associations and companies concerned will have the opportunity to submit their observations and, if the investigation goes forward, be heard during the proceedings.