WSBI has been endorsing financial education for 100 years



Peter Simon
WSBI-ESBG Managing Director

At the sidelines of the WSBI International Retail Banking Leaders Conference which was held on 17 March in Cartagena, Colombia, WSBI-ESBG Managing Director Peter Simon held an interview with Colombian financial magazine “Portafolio”. The interview was originally published on Portafolio website in Spanish

What is the contribution of savings banks and retail banks to society?

The concept of savings banks have its ideological roots in the Age of Enlightenment, in the 18th century. On the one hand it is based in the principle of giving everybody a platform for self-help and on the other hand on the idea of investing the money of a region within the region to strengthen it for the well-being of all people living there. Savings banks were created with that idea in mind and aimed at the poorer classes who had until then no access to financial services – to empower them to prepare for the future. Savings banks were born at the heart of working communities and helped develop the habit of putting a little bit of money aside to build up resources to face difficult times. To this day, the role of savings banks continues to be essential to build strong individuals, families and communities who are ready to face adversities and can create prosperity by using their savings to create new sources of income.

What are the lessons learned from the pandemic?

During the pandemic, savings banks all over the world proved that in difficult times they back their single clients in problems as well as the local economies. But the pandemic showed also very clearly how important savings can be. Resilient people have savings, and resilient people make resilient societies. I can say that millions of people around the word were able to face the reduction or even complete lack of income during the steep economic slowdown created by the lockdowns thanks to their savings. I believe that the important role of savings and retail banks was very clear because they provide a safe way to keep and grow savings, and open the doors to people, including low-income people, to other financial products. I believe that the main lesson was that financial education is essential to build resilient societies and we should continue building financial education because it leads to people who are financially savvy and included. Most savings bank constantly conduct financial education programmes and these should continue and grow, and the role of the private and public sectors is very important to ensure that even the most vulnerable people are financially educated.

What are the main factors involved in the development of the sector?

There are many but I would like to highlight one that was boosted precisely by the pandemic: digitalization. Savings and retail banks are institutions rooted in a long tradition but also flexible institutions that are able to evolve with the times and one of the most current ways to serve customers of all sizes is digitalization. It is a trend that started a decade ago but was accelerated by the lockdowns imposed during the pandemic. Now, it is very important to continue in the path of digitalization hand-in-hand with financial education to ensure that no one is left behind in this new era, with particular focus on vulnerable groups and senior people should be included.
Another very important factor for our sector to thrive are proportional regulations at all levels. Savings and retail banks include institutions of all sizes and we believe that the regulations should be proportional to the size and capacity of each institution so that they can continue to thrive and are not burdened by unnecessary procedures that could jeopardize their resources needed to ensure excellent service to their customers.

Why has financial education only been discussed in the recent past?

No, financial education efforts have always been at the heart of savings banks and, as mentioned before, these date back to the 18th century. I am honoured to be the Managing Director of an institution founded almost 100 years ago. Indeed, the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute was created in 1924 in Milan at the first “International thrift day”. Already this first meeting dealt a lot with all questions around financial education and since then financial inclusion and financial education is a key element of the common DNA of our members.
To give you an example of he recent past: We have seen worldwide a trend towards a special focus on the financial education of women because there is still a dramatic gender gap and lots of room for improvement. For example, at the international level women have about 30-40% less pension funds than men when they retire while at the same time they tend to leave longer. This puts senior women in a vulnerable position and that is something that can be corrected with financial education and awareness about the importance for both men and women to take the lead of their own financial future.

What is missing to advance in a greater degree of financial inclusion that allows real access and use?
Customer-centric products and services are at the centre of successful financial inclusion. To achieve this, banks should really know their customers, including especially low-income customers, and truly respond to their needs. Last year the WSBI closed a six-year programme on financial inclusion called Scale2Save, a partnership with the Mastercard Foundation. In the framework of this programme we included 1.4 million people into the formal financial system for the first time in six African countries. One of the main takeaways of this programme was that banks can develop products for low-income people that work and that are sustainable and one of the keys is that these respond to people’s needs by having a customer-centric approach behind them.

What will be the main messages of the Cartagena meeting?

WSBI International Retail Banking Leaders Conference in Cartagena will focus on topics such as but not limited to cybersecurity and digitalization, sustainable finance and financial education and inclusion.
High level executives from four continents, including some of the WSBI members, will immerse in this academic event to reflect on how to move forward to continue serving in this changing world. How can we contribute to the sustainable future this planet needs? How can digital and cybersecurity measure help us thrive? How to continue building financial education and inclusion in the most effective way? These are all topics that we will discuss during the day. Some of our members will present their success stories and lessons learned on these topics, external experts and academics will also present their views. This will be a truly remarkable opportunity for leaders of our sector and we are thrilled to hold this, our first in-person event in the region since the pandemic hit. We are particularly grateful to our host, Mr. Diego Prieto, President of Banco Caja Social and regional president of the WSBI; and to Mr. Isidro Fainé, the WSBI President, President of the “la Caixa” Foundation, and a truly remarkable unique personality in the business and philanthropic sectors.

Global retail bank leaders meet in Colombia to discuss trends on sustainable finance, cybersecurity and financial education

Global retail bank leaders meet in Colombia to discuss trends on sustainable finance, cybersecurity and financial education

The conference was hosted by WSBI President, Mr Isidro Fainé (President at ‘La Caixa’ Foundation) and the WSBI Regional President for The America and Caribbean, Mr Diego Prieto (President at Banco Caja Social, Colombia). The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI), based in Brussels, brings together 88 worldwide saving banks associations from 67 countries.

Isidro Fainé highlighted the social responsibility of banks to make a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable society. “In recent years, we have seen unprecedented movements in interest rates, suffered a chain of financial crises and had to adapt to drastic reforms in the regulatory frameworks of the banking sector. We are immersed in a complex, uncertain and unstable scenario.” The president reassured confidence when he added: “I am optimistic about our future. We are called upon to continue to conduct banking with a profound sense of social responsibility and to make a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable society a reality. At this time of growing inequalities, our social action takes on more importance than ever”.

Peter Simon, Managing Director of WSBI-ESBG stressed “We all have the responsibility to discuss and define what is our take as socially responsible banks and as global leaders in retail banking, amid a complicated economic outlook and the advent of new technologies. While it’s true that artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and one day, with AI, we will be able to make smarter investment decisions than the best Wall Street analysts, it is important to remember that technology can never fully replace the human touch in serving communities. As our members know first-hand, serving communities requires more than trust financial expertise, it requires a deep understanding of the needs of the struggles of the daily lives of the people that we all serve”.

During the conference, leading financial experts from IFC (International Finance Corporation) World Bank, the WEF, CECA, Caixa Bank, Telefonica, Al Barid Bank (Morocco) and State Bank of India, amongst others presented success stories in digitisation and cybersecurity tackling sustainable finance and financial education as a means for financial inclusion.

Priorities for the coming years

Helmut Schleweis, President of DSGV German Savings Bank Association (DSVG) and Dominique Goursoulle-Nouhaud President Chairman of the National Federation of Caisses d’Epargne (FNCE) and also the President of the European Saving and Retail Banking Institute (ESBG), as keynote speakers, showed the solid commitment of the WSBI’s members to the latest WSBI General Assembly’s priorities in Paris in 2021. Financial inclusion, the promotion of sustainable finance, innovation, leveraging digitisation to promote proximity to the customer and reinforcing solvency in the framework of Basel IV, were the priorities set for the coming years.

The Conference was kindly sponsored by CaixaBank, Banco Caja Social, CECA, DSGV, Minsait (INDRA), and Movistar Empresas.

From the Press corner

Mr Isidro Faine’s interview with El TiempoMr Peter Simon’s Interview with Portafolio
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ESBG submits its response to the EBA consultation on the overall recovery capacity in recovery planning.

On 14 March, ESBG submitted its response to the consultation launched by the European Banking Authority (EBA) during mid-December on its draft guidelines which aim to harmonise the observed practices on the overall recovery capacity (ORC) determination and assessment, so as to improve the usability of recovery plans and make crisis preparedness more effective.

The objective of the ORC is to provide a summary of the overall capability of the institution to restore its financial position after a significant deterioration by implementing suitable recovery options.

In its response, ESBG firstly wanted the EBA to specify the requirements regarding the impact assessment of the recovery options and also to clarify the scenario severity. Scenarios are considered severe if they would lead institutions to the ‘near-default point’ in case no recovery options are implemented. Does this ‘near-default point’ refer simultaneously to Total SREP Capital Requirement (TSCR) and Total SREP Leverage Ratio (TSLRR) or alternatively either TSCR or TSLRR? ESBG wanted also to know whether breaching the near-default point corresponds to the Failing or Likely To Fail (FOLTF) point declared by the supervisor and the National Resolution Authorities (NRA) leading to resolution proceedings.

Secondly, ESBG underpinned a lack of level playing field for the determination of the ORC, although, setting a harmonized FOLTF point may appear fair. High reported capital/liquidity ratios of banks increase the starting point for the scenario calculation. Hence, the necessity to decrease from high capital/liquidity starting point to FOLTF point assumes a stronger degradation of the general economic conditions which leads to more severe haircuts on recovery options and a lower ORC. Therefore, this is a clear disadvantage for banks with high or increasing capital/liquidity ratios.

Finally, regarding the ORC score assessed by the competent authorities, ESBG considers that it is not realistic to fulfil all the buffers included into the recovery indicator levels after such severe crisis.

Full Position Paper


Politico LIVE

Europe’s economy is heading into troubled waters. Inflationary pressure, driven by the most acute economic circumstances since 2008, has put policymakers in the hot seat to steady the course. On top of this, leaders across Europe have been tasked with running a tight ship – finishing up on key finance policy files and keeping up with a disrupting FinTech economy. What will 2023 look like once the storm has settled?

POLITICO Live’s Finance Summit on March 23 will peek into the telescope to see what’s next for the finance sector, and what role it will play in driving tomorrow’s economy. A much-needed status update of Europe’s economic situation will kick off the day, followed by in-depth discussions on banking, green finance and more, topped off by compelling discussions on crypto and payments.

Finance Summit: Mr Peter Simon, the Managing Director of WSBI-ESGB is speaking at: Spotlight discussion - Basel III and the road to the Banking Union: almost there?

Thank you for joining POLITICO Live Finance Summit! Comment your favorite moment from the day using #POLITICOFinance
Missed a session? The discussions will be uploaded to YouTube shortly!


Thursday, March 23, 2023 12:35 PM to 1:10 PM

Other panelists:

José Manuel Campa · European Banking Authority
Jonás Fernández · European Parliament
Hannah Brenton · POLITICO-Moderator

Cybersecurity Network 1st Meeting

Hybrid meeting, Deutscher Sparkassen- und Giroverband (DSGV), Berlin

WSBI-ESBG is launching a Cybersecurity Network (CSN), a new network for members focused on all matters related to today’s banking, payments, and finance security challenges. This network will be a platform of exchange where WSBI-ESBG experts in cybersecurity can exchange knowledge and best-practices with both each other and external speakers. In addition, members will have the opportunity to build an international network and stay up to date regarding recent developments in the area of cybersecurity. We foresee to organize regular network meetings, as well as stand-alone events, such as trainings and conferences. Oliver Lauer, Head of, DSGV, will be chairing the CSN. The 1st meeting of the Cybersecurity Network is scheduled to take place the 30th and 31st of March 2023, hosted by DSGV in Berlin.

WSBI-ESBG’s Managing Director advocates for proportionate banking supervision at EBI event

On 8 March, WSBI-ESBG’s Managing Director, Mr Peter Simon, joined an online panel organised by the European Banking Institute (EBI) about ECB Banking Supervision and SSM Supervisory Priorities for 2023-25. Other panellists included Mr. Thomas Gstädtner Ph.D (ECB) and Mr. Christos Gortsos Ph.D (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens).

In his introductory statement, Mr Simon stressed the importance of striking the right balance between harmonisation and proportionality in banking supervision. Supervisory expectations and requirements should always be proportionate to the size, significance and riskiness of the supervised institutions. He also mentioned specific issues such as interaction between the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) and National Competent Authorities (NCAs) as well as the transparency of the ECB decision making process.

The integration of climate risk considerations in banks’ risk management processes will continue to be one of the key ECB priorities for the next three years. Provided that prudential regulation should be risk-based, it was highlighted that the financial sector is continuing to progress in the identification, disclosure and management of these risks, and that banks’ efforts to sustain the economic transition keep on increasing.
Banks’ digital transformation is another key priority. The ECB wants to make sure that banks have a sound digital strategy in place . The role of the ECB would then be to check how adequate the risk management and governance structure of supervised institutions for a given digitisation strategy would meet minimum expectations..
Another important topic that was discussed is corporate governance including the Fit and Proper framework. Here ESBG explained the reasons why the ex-ante/ex-post assessment suitability of members of the management body should be a choice at national level.

Participants also discussed what banks should do to build resilience towards future macro-financial and geopolitical shocks. On this point ESBG stressed that today, banks – especially locally rooted savings and retail banks – are part of the solution thanks to their demonstrated solid capital and liquidity position which allows them to continue supporting companies and households even in time of stress.

In conclusion, ESBG called on EU policy makers to achieve better and more proportionate regulation and supervision, which would allow financial institutions to carry out their daily activities, such as lending to SMEs, under a non-detrimental regulatory framework.

Roberto Timpano
Principal Advisor- Prudencial Policy and Supervision

t.: +32 2 211 11 66

Meet the Advocacy Team


ESBG submits its response to the EBA consultation on its data collection for the benchmarking exercise in 2024

On 28 February, the ESBG submitted its response to the European Banking Authority (EBA) consultation on its data collection for the benchmarking exercise in 2024. The aim of this supervisory benchmarking exercise to monitor and to assess the variability of institutions’ internal approaches used for the calculation of own funds requirements for market and credit risk as well as the usage of their IFRS 9 models, as well as on the impact of the several different supervisory and regulatory measures, which influence the capital requirements and solvency ratios in the EU.

In relation to the IFRS 9 models benchmarking, the ESBG expressed its support with the EBA approach to collect the whole set of information (“full data collection”) only for a limited number of HDPs asset classes and to use only the more relevant characteristics – i.e., “split” – for defining the homogenous portfolios in scope. Moreover, with respect to the materiality thresholds to be implemented in this case, the ESBG believes that these thresholds should not focus on exposures only, but on allocated provisions as well.
Furthermore, with respect to the EBA template on “Details on exposures to High Default Portfolios” (Template 115), the ESBG requests additional clarity on the probability of default (PD) used to compute the 12-month expected credit loss (ECL) (the ECL represents the weighted average credit loss with the PD as the weight). The ESBG ask for confirmation that if the facility expires before the year considered for a specific data point, the facility’s PD will not be included in the exposure weighted average PD.
Moreover, with respect to the EBA template on “Details on exposures in High Default Portfolios by economic scenarios” (Template 116), the ESBG notes that the guidance provided by the EBA states that the ECL amount associated with the economic scenario 0 shall be the weighted average of the ECL reported for the economic scenarios 1 to 5, while the SICR assessment is done based on weighted average PDs.
As such, the ESBG expects that there will be material differences between the booked ECL amount based on the Significant Increase in Credit Risk (SICR) assessment based on probability weighted PD, and the amount calculated as the weighted average of the ECL reported for the economic scenario 1 to 5 (SICR assessment based on scenario PD).
The ESBG will continue this important topic for its members and stands ready to become involved with regulators in this respect.


WSBI-ESBG Managing Director Peter Simon’s Interview with “Corresponsables”



Peter Simon
WSBI-ESBG Managing Director

WSBI-ESBG Managing Director Peter Simon gave an interview to the leading Spanish media outlet “Corresponsables” to contribute to their special “Financial Education Dossier” prepared in collaboration CECA banking association, Funcas and WSBI.

Access to financial services in de-populated areas is one of the biggest challenges of our society. The World Savings Banks and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) is no stranger to this situation and is working on solutions. What can you tell us about this?

The WSBI values are the three ‘R’s – Regional, Retail and Responsible. The first ‘R’, regional, is because WSBI members have a wide network of branches or other solutions which try to bring banking services to as many people as possible in the areas where they live; we call this ‘proximity banking’ and it is very important for us.

Some members have mobile bank branches which drive around their region so that customers do not need to travel far into the local town/city. These mobile branches are staffed and can offer the same service as a static bank branch.

The development of mobile phone apps for banks has also vastly improved in the past decade. These apps allow customers to make changes to their accounts, submit requests for additional services, and message a bank adviser from wherever they are, rather than entering a bank branch. These services were vital during the early days of Covid, when banks were forced to shut their doors but still required to provide lifelines to their customers. In Belgium, banks provided updates on the lockdown rules in place. I know that in Spain, 95 % of the branches of CECA associated members remained open. But still, these apps were very important to avoid contact and limit the spread of the virus.

In many countries, the mobile banking services were developed in lieu of branches or to complement agent banking services, as the local population were able to access mobile phones more readily than visit distant bank branches.

Just last month we had the opportunity to visit the agent banking operations of our Indonesian member, bank BTN. Agent bankers are usually found in convenience stores or petrol stations where locals can go and carry out all the usual banking operations which are provided in traditional bank branches (withdrawals, deposits, paying utility bills, etc.) This visit explained to other WSBI members and representatives from the Joint Office the crucial role that these agents play in developing countries by increasing financial inclusion and offering critical services in areas where opening branches is not economically viable.

So despite that some branches have closed, WSBI members strive to offer the same level of service through different mediums.

Our country (Spain), where we refer to this situation as ‘Emptied Spain’, has many similarities to other countries with regards to this same issue. What good practices are being carried out in the European Union and in Africa?

Losing bank branches is not a new problem, and unfortunately it is one to stay. Bank branches have a lot of overhead costs, and this can make bank products more expensive to cover them. But banks must find alternative solutions to meet customer needs. This is why mobile phone apps, mobile branches, telephone banking and alternative services, such as banking services by post, ATMs or banking buses are vitally important. In addition, it is vital that banks provide a medium to respond to customers swiftly, to respond to their concerns and to meet their needs. WSBI members pride themselves in providing financial education services to their customers and citizens in their regions, to ensure that financial service users understand the products and can use them safely.

But it is not just financial education – it’s also digital skills. It is important that people know how to use a smartphone to access their banking apps. It is also important that people are taught how to recognise risks and threats – scam emails or text messages, pop-ups asking for personal bank details, or urgent calls from someone pretending to be a bank and that, ‘to keep your money safe, please transfer your money to a different account that we will give the details’. If not recognised as a scam, these kinds of calls can be terrifying, and it is very difficult to recover the money.

It seems to me that Spain is very concerned about this issue due to its having an aging population and low population density in the territory. However, if we compare the access to financial services, we can see that it is in very good position. Spain is the third country in the EU-27 with the highest number of banking branches per inhabitant (average in Spain is 1,52 and 1,08 in the EU-27).

In any case, we acknowledge that there will always be vulnerable groups of people who might not cope with the pace of digital transformation in banking. This is why the banking sector is looking for alternative solutions to meet these specific needs. One example is the commitment of the Spanish banking sector that created an observatory of financial inclusion in order to identify the gaps and the needs of the population. The first analysis has shown that 98,6% of the Spanish population has a point of contact with banking services in their place of residence. The problem is that the 1.4% remaining are usually older people, or people in remote areas. In order to improve this data, the whole Spanish banking sector is committed to a route map that will provide a physical point of contact with financial services all of the villages with a population of more than 500.

From an international perspective, we are observing an increase in aging populations, in particular in the global north. The overall literacy rate of Sub-Saharan Africa stood at 66 percent in 2020 with a gender gap of 13% and with some countries ranging as low as 30%-35% literacy rate. In that region of the world many people cannot afford a smart phone and have to rely on more basic digital financial services. In addition, we see a decline in literacy rates, in zones of conflict and (climate) crisis where school education is being interrupted. WSBI members therefore strive to be customer centric and offer services that meet the various financial and non-financial needs of all segments of the population, including the specific needs of the elderly, low-income, women, or young people. Financial and digital education are therefore in many cases complemented by life skills training, crisis management or entrepreneurial skills building.

What projects related to financial education are you aware of and would like to highlight in this interview?

As mentioned before, financial education is important. WSBI members have a long history of providing financial education programmes not only to their own customers but also to the communities in which they serve. I am certain that every single WSBI member is able to show a financial education course, platform or initiative and it is difficult to name just a couple. However, let’s try. Our French and German members have financial education programmes dating back over 70 years, covering everything from fixing a simple household budget, to investing safely in crypto, to understanding what is ‘sustainable’ and how to stay up-to-date with ‘digital’ skills.

Our Norwegian member is working with the Red Cross charity to provide financial education to female prisoners, our Moroccan member has developed a series of 24 TV shows aired on a national TV channel at primetime, to boost conversations about money among families. And in Spain – you have ProFuturo, an initiative launched in 2016 and financed by “la Caixa” Foundation and Telefónica Foundation which has digitized schools in 25 countries from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia. To date, 27 million children have benefitted from the educational digital program. who works at national level but also in Latin America to provide financial education to children. Furthermore, at Spanish level, you have FUNCAS Educa, an initiative that was recognised by the CNMV and Bank of Spain by the Finanzas para todos award. Since its creation in 2018, it has provided financial education to more than 12 million people, in more than 4000 activities through an investment of more than 12 million euros.

For the past six years, WSBI has carried out a programme with funding from the Mastercard Foundation; the Scale2Save initiative has had the aim – and success – to promote the viability of low–balance savings accounts and to understand the extent to which savings allow vulnerable people to boost their financial resilience and wellbeing by bringing 1.3 million low-income women, farmers and young people into formal banking in six countries in Africa. WSBI is also embarking on a new regional Silver Finance initiative in partnerships with the IDB Lab to adaptive promote financial services tailored to the needs of the elderly population in Latin America.

How much do you engage to communicating and highlighting the socially responsible developments of the organisations that make up the WSBI?

As a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact since 2006, WSBI-ESBG follows the principles within it. These principles describe fully social and environmental responsibility commitments to follow. Based on this, WSBI-ESBG pays significant consideration to the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. In more recent years, financial services have become an enabler of these goals and are no longer seen as an end-goal in itself. WSBI-ESBG is supporting its network of members in achieving these goals and putting the right metrics in place for demonstrating how members deliver impact. For example, WSBI is a member of the action group for better metrics of savings at the European Microfinance Platform and a collaborator to the Impact Management Platform – an OECD/UNEP-FI initiative that drives collaboration between leading providers of public good standards and guidance for managing sustainability impacts. With our membership, we discuss progress in contributing to socially responsible developments in various working groups and committees, such as the Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development Committee, and the Sustainable Finance Committee.

Regarding sustainability, it is essential to mention that the African region is still at the onboarding stage. Indeed, most of the African members have yet to implement and adapt their process accordingly. However, sustainability is a topic which features high on their list of priorities in 2022-2023 and WSBI is exploring the best ways to support members in achieving sustainability goals and bring together the region’s experts to exchange best practices.

In addition, we have developed and kept up to date the WSBI-ESBG Charter for Responsible and Sustainable Business. This charter calls on WSBI members to build and maintain a long-term relationship of trust and confidence with those people they serve as customers, provide clear and accurate information on products and services, work against money laundering and terrorist financing, boost accessibility and financial inclusion by serving all segments of society. In the immediate aftermath of the Russian war on Ukraine, members worked hard to provide basic payments accounts to refuges settling in the EU Member States and ensured they had access to financial advice.

WSBI members also recognise that climate change is one of the main collective hazards ever experienced worldwide. As part of their strong commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable development, WSBI members contribute to the mitigation of climate change by working towards lessening their business’ impact on the environment, providing loans to sustainable projects, and having a strong social commitment to driving local jobs and growth.

To this end, in September last year we organised the first edition of the ESG Financing Summit, a global event where policy-makers and executives in the banking industry discussed best practices and lessons learnt on ESG Financing. The event was co-organised with the Union of Arab Banks and the Asia Association for Financial Cooperation, and included leading figures from the European Commission, China’s Central Bank, and the Governor of the Zambia Central Bank. Over 300 participants attended the meeting, confirming even further how central this topic is for our members.

Read the Spanish Original on Corresponsables

ESBG responded to the ESMA consultation about the use of ESG terms in funds’ names

On 17 February, ESBG submitted its response to the ESMA consultation about the use of ESG terms in funds’ names. ESBG’s answer is built on the following three key points:

  • ESBG underlines the need to establish, first and foremost, a clear and uniform methodology for “sustainable investments”.
  • ESBG does not believe that introducing ESMA’s suggested quantitative thresholds to assess funds’ names would be the best solution.
  • Instead of introducing the suggested thresholds, ESBG would like to call for a better implementation of the already existing requirements.

ESBG welcomes ESMA’s objective to tackle greenwashing when it comes to funds’ names. As a prerequisite to any action, there must be a clear and scientifically comprehensible uniform legal definition of “sustainability” to be able to present sustainability features in investment products. EU sustainability-related initiatives, such as the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and the EU Taxonomy Regulation, are already aiming at creating a harmonised cross-border framework for offering sustainable products in the EU. Hence, it is too early to set thresholds until a harmonized methodology for “sustainable investments” is provided.

More specifically, ESBG believes that the proposed threshold of 80% for investments with sustainable and social objectives is too high. There is notably a surprising gap between this threshold and the ones already existing in other EU countries such as Germany or Luxembourg. ESBG is also not in favour of the inclusion of an additional threshold of at least 50% of minimum proportion of sustainable investments for the use of the word “sustainable” in funds’ names for now. This last threshold should be firstly reviewed and tested for its market suitability before being implemented.

Finally, ESBG believes that sustainable finance regulations should rather incentivise asset manager and product manufacturers to increase the taxonomy level of ESG financial instruments since this has not been sufficiently the case so far.

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ESBG Spotlight: European Payments – taking Stock of current developments

In the Spotlight: Dr. Joachim Schmalzl, Executive Member of the Board of DSGV

In 2021, nearly 144 billion cashless transactions were made in the EU at an 8,6% CAGR (2017-2021), showing that payments are extremely important – and for the EU regulators it is important that these payments are safe, secure, efficient and under EU governance.

This is the right moment to take stock of the latest developments and whether the recent European Commission initiatives are assisting the EU payments landscape to flourish. ESBG is happy to put Dr. Schmalzl, Executive Member of the Board of DSGV, in its Spotlight to receive an update on recent developments. He will shed some light on general market trends in payments, customer behaviour, fraud and the digital euro, and he will discuss some recent regulatory initiatives.

Moderated by Diederik Bruggink, ESBG’s Head of the Payments, Digital Finance and Innovation department, this event promises to be a fruitful exchange on some of the recent developments that drive the EU’s payments agenda.


Dr. Joachim Schmalzl

Executive Member of the Board of DSGV



Head of Department Innovation and Payments at The European Savings and Retail Banking Group

Get in contact with us for more details about Spotlight, replays of previous editions or possible collaboration: