The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has been conducting an investigation into the supply of retail banking services to personal current account customers and to small and medium sized enterprises in the UK since November 2014.  This investigation was initially scheduled to conclude on 5 May 2016.  However, it has been decided that it will be extended, as permitted under s137(2A) and 172 of the Enterprise Act 2002, and is now scheduled to expire on 12 August 2016.

This extension was deemed necessary due to the unforeseen scope and complexity of the investigation, the extent of the possible remedies package that is being considered, and the various parties’ responses to the CMA's provisional findings.  The inquiry group leading the investigation considered the extension a sufficient amount of time to take full and proper account of comments received in response to provisional findings and to develop a suitable package of remedies that is reasonable and comprehensive.

Following on from this, the CMA has published a supplemental notice of possible remedies in its market investigation.  It is consulting on additional remedy proposals following concerns that its notice of possible remedies, published in October 2015, did not sufficiently address the identified adverse effects on competition and/or any resulting detrimental effects for personal current account (PCA) overdraft users.

The CMA is, therefore, consulting on measures to help customers manage and raise awareness of their overdraft usage and charges. These include:

  • Prompts and alerts to inform customers of imminent and actual overdraft usage and charges.
  • Measures to encourage PCA customers to make an informed choice on their overdraft options.
  • Suspension periods for unarranged overdrafts.
  • A monthly maximum charge for using an unarranged overdraft.

The CMA has invited comments on the additional remedy proposals by 21 March 2016.

The CMA has also published a working paper setting out its further thinking on its proposed remedy for a price comparison website for SMEs, and the results of qualitative and quantitative remedies research conducted by third parties.  The CMA has also invited comments on these by 21 March 2016.