State Aid rules for banks in difficulty

The European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) welcomes the initiative of the European Commission to launch a targeted consultation aiming at reviewing the State Aid rules for banks in difficulty.

The potential revision will assess the fitness of the current rules regarding burden-sharing, market discipline, financial stability, and the protection of taxpayers among other things. The modernized framework should ensure that the State Aid rules are applied proportionally, are adapted to the crisis management and deposit insurance (CMDI) legislation and are specifically targeted at different kinds of bank crises.

ESBG argues that all DGS measures available under the CMDI framework applied in accordance with the rules established by the DGSD and the BRRD/SRMR, regardless of national specificities in the design, the governance, and the functioning of DGSs, should be exempted from the application of the regular State Aid control rules. It should be made clear that when DGS funds are used for support measures, State Aid rules should not be applicable and no notification to the Commission be required. Exempting the application of the State Aid rules on actions under the CMDI framework will allow the effective and undisturbed use of measures foreseen under DGSD/BRRD/SRMR.
Furthermore, and until such improvements are effectively achieved, ESBG finds it important to avoid any increase in contributions to the national DGS and to the Single Resolution Fund (SRF).

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For a single market for data to push growth and innovation

ESBG submitted its response to the European Commission (EC) targeted consultation on an Open Finance Framework and data sharing in the financial sector on 15 July.

ESBG and its members highlighted that they share the objectives of the EC’s data strategy and the commitment to create a single market for data that will constitute a potential source of growth and innovation.

A European approach to data is essential to ensure competitiveness, avoid fragmentation, benefit from an effect of scale and guard against windfall effects from which certain non-European players could benefit. A flourishing data-driven market should be based on principles of mutual benefits and right incentives for all market participants. Therefore, a fair share of value and risk is a fundamental prerequisite for the success of data sharing.

In an open finance framework, the principle “same activity/data, same risks, same rules” shall apply to all actors, including third party providers, ESBG said in its response. To ensure customer’s trust, every third party accessing customer data shall ensure privacy rights and data protection in compliance with all applicable rules. As such, we suggest third party within the financial sector be subject to the same licensing requirements and to supervision by competent authorities.

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PSD2 review must seek fair distribution of value and risk among all market participants

ESBG submitted its response to the European Commission (EC)’s targeted consultation on the review of the revised payment services Directive (PSD2) on 15 July. In it, ESBG and its members stated that the core principle of PSD2 – access to data free of charge – did not foster the best outcome and that the PSD2 implementation has been a highly complicated and costly process for the whole market.

For banks, in particular, the investments required for the implementation of PSD2 have been unproportionally high without a chance of a return. More in general, the significant investment levels do not match the limited economic benefits for the market and the end-consumer.

Therefore, the review of the PSD2 should seek a more balanced approach, with a fair distribution of value and risk among all market participants.

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European Commission review of the Mortgage Credit Directive

On February 28, ESBG sent its response to the European Commission questionnaire on what to include in the upcoming Review of the Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD). The consultation, published in November, covered 55 questions. The review of the legislative text is expected to be launched later this year.

In our response, we asked for a limited review on the necessary topics only. Our overall position is that an in-depth review of the Mortgage Credit Directive would be premature, at this time. Since the last review took place in 2016 and it concerns long-term finance, more time is needed to evaluate the impact of the changes included then.

As the mortgage market is not operating much cross-border, we believe that EU level intervention is not necessary. Consumers rely heavily on local expertise of mortgage advisers and working in their own languages and within national legal frameworks.

However, one area we are in favour of a review is the compatibility with other EU texts. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation, the EU Accessibility Act, and the Rome I Regulation will all impact the MCD so alignment is necessary.

As always, ESBG is pleased to see work being carried out on consumer protection. ESBG members have a long history of financial education and welcome the provision in the MCD text to increase financial education for consumers, which is more defined at national level.

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Clear and fair rules for the use of machine learning in Internal Rating Based models

The European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) welcomes the initiative of the European Banking Authority (EBA) to discuss the implications of the use of machine learning (ML) in the internal rating based (IRB) models for credit risk.

We encourage the EBA to build a clear and fair supervisory scheme that goes further and allows compliance with the proposed principles to be measured, and that finds the balance between the advantages and the new risks that machine learning brings.

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Call to EBA for equal treatment of actors when accessing consumer payment accounts

The European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the public consultation from the European Banking Authority (EBA) on the amendment of its Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on Strong Customer Authentication and Secure Communication (SCA&CSC) under the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) with regard to 90-day exemption from SCA for account access.

ESBG and its members strongly disagree with the EBA’s claim that banks fail to provide user-friendly Strong Consumer Authentication (SCA) methods and that its application often causes friction in the customer journey. Instead, ESBG calls for equal treatment of actors when accessing consumer payment accounts.

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ESBG response to consultation on Pillar 3 disclosure of IRRBB

ESBG proposes to further delay the disclosure of the net interest income (NII) risk measures until the EBA requirements for these NII risk measures are specified.

BRUSSELS, 3 September 2021 – The European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) replied on 30 August to the European Banking Authority (EBA) consultation on draft implementing technical standards (ITS) on Pillar 3 disclosures regarding exposures to interest rate risk on positions not held in the trading book (IRRBB).

The draft ITS puts forward comparable disclosures for stakeholders to assess institutions’ IRRBB risk management framework as well as the sensitivity of institutions’ economic value of equity and net interest income to changes in interest rates. The proposed standards will amend the comprehensive ITS on institutions’ public disclosures, in line with the strategic objective of developing a single and comprehensive Pillar 3 package that should facilitate implementation and further promote market discipline.

ESBG believes that the approach chosen by the EBA for the development of the draft ITS is quite problematic due to the lack of a definition for net interest income (NII) metrics.

The disclosed NII metrics may not be comparable as long as the EBA does not define what it understands by these NII metrics. Moreover, it is very likely that future disclosed NII metrics will be based on different methodologies. Optimally, the methodological requirements for the calculations would be clarified by the EBA before the banks would be forced to disclose the calculated results. If this is not feasible, a clarification that banks may use internal metrics for disclosure until further notice would help.

In other words, the current chronological order of the published standards shows potential for conflict. We understand the EBA’s efforts to create as much clarity as possible for disclosure in a timely manner. However, for understandable reasons, the EBA has not yet defined the requirements under Article 98(5a) CRD to be applied to the metrics to be disclosed. That is why we strongly oppose the EBA’s expectations of institutions to apply the present draft before it enters into force.

Instead, ESBG proposes to further delay the disclosure of NII risk measures until the EBA requirements for these are specified.

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Digital Euro Quote

ECB and ESBG committed to a successful Digital Euro

BRUSSELS, 15 July 2021 – ESBG welcomes the decision of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) to launch the investigation phase of the digital euro project as announced by the Eurosystem. The investigation phase will last 24 months and will aim at addressing key issues concerning design and distribution.

“ESBG and its members welcome the Eurosystem’s announcement and look forward to the coming interaction with the ECB”, said Sofia Lindh Possne, Chair of the ESBG Task Force on Central Bank Digital Currencies and Swedbank’s Senior Advisor Group Regulatory Affairs.

ESBG supports the ECB’s aim to ensure that in the digital age citizens and firms continue to have access to the safest form of money, central bank money. ESBG and its Members also support the efforts towards an environmentally friendly design of the core infrastructure of a future digital euro.

ESBG especially welcomes the involvement of different stakeholders via the creation of the Market Advisory Group. ESBG stands ready to engage with the Eurosystem and the other European Institutions during this investigation phase. In anticipation thereof, ESBG already drafted and issued a high-level position paper on the key challenges that the digital euro will face. The paper, published here, also suggests four possible use cases that could especially benefit from the issuance of a digital euro.

ESBG hopes this is a good starting base for a fruitful dialogue in the months to come and is looking forward to a further engagement on this important file with the ECB.

Notes to the editor

ESBG’s high-level position paper on a digital euro is available for download below in full and in summary format. It analyses five challenges for the issuance of a digital euro and presents four possible use cases that could especially benefit from the issuance of a digital euro.

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ESBG analyses digital euro’s main challenges

BRUSSELS, 6 July 2021 – Since the publication of the report on a digital euro in October 2020, ESBG and its members have been following closely and with great interest the developments made by the European Central Bank (ECB) in the project of a digital euro.

In this context, ESBG has recently finalised a high-level paper that analyses some of the main challenges that a digital euro will face. The paper touches upon five main topics: First, it describes the bank funding model and the challenges and risks that the introduction of a digital euro could bring about. Second, it discusses the topic of limits to individual holdings and finds that any envisaged limit should be based on a sound assessment of available data. Third, it focuses on the impact that a digital euro would have on intermediation and competition. Fourth, it describes the point of view of the customers. Fifth, it examines cross-border payments.

Finally, in suggesting four possible use cases that could especially benefit from the issuance of a digital euro, ESBG and its members stand ready to further engage with the ECB on the possible issuance of a digital euro.

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ESBG’s Head of Payments appointed as member of EU Commission Expert Group

BRUSSELS, 1 June 2021 - The European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG)’s Head of Payments and Innovation, Diederik Bruggink, 52, has been appointed as member of the European Commission’s Payment Systems Market Expert Group (PSMEG) from now until the end of 2025. Mr Bruggink was also part of this influential group between 2017 and 2021.

The expert group’s objective is to advise the Commission in the area of payments and to assist the Commission in the preparation of legislative acts or policy initiatives regarding payments, including fraud prevention issues related to payment industry and users. The group is coordinated by the Directorate General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (FISMA).

Diederik Bruggink is also Head of Payments and Innovations at the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI). At WSBI-ESBI, Mr Bruggink analyses the multiple dimensions of the payments market, proposing and assisting in agreeing member positions with respect to their payments and related businesses. He advocates the associations’ positions on payments with policymakers, regulators, standardisation bodies, industry associations, and enabling a constant member dialogue on developments, with a particular focus on innovation.

Prior to joining WSBI-ESBG in 2017, he managed since 2012 his own international consultancy practice. In 2009-2012 he was Vice President of card schemes at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Prior to that, he was appointed in 2005 within ABN AMRO’s market infrastructures department as Vice President of payments and cards. He also worked previously with Mastercard where he was a senior business leader in the global debit team. He started his career with Capgemini Global Financial Services in 1996.

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