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ESBG Retail Banking Conference debates innovation, proportionate regulation

ESBG Retail Banking Conference debates innovation, proportionate regulation

More than 150 banking experts debated the future of Europe's retail banks

​​BRUSSELS, 16 March 2016 – More than 150 banking experts debated the future of Europe's retail banks in Brussels at the European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) Retail Banking Conference. ESBG members were joined by EU policymakers and technology experts during three morning panels for high-impact discussions on how EU policy can help boost locally focused banks.

ESBG President Isidro Fainé delivered the opening remarks, urging policymakers in attendance to ensure that the EU Better Regulation initiative is proportionate to the issue at hand, claiming that the "one size fits all" approach would harm the role of the locally rooted banks.​

Read Isidro Fainé's full speech here

Echoing the conference theme Better Regulation for Jobs and Growth, he said: "There is a real need to apply the principle of proportionality at every step of the legislative process. A level playing field would allow savings and retail banks to continue to play an important role in providing financial access to people within a clear and transparent framework. That framework would apply to all competitors, not just retail and savings banks, but also commercial banks, fintech providers and niche players."

​Following Mr Fainé's address, the morning session featured remarks on how Europe's retail banks are being affected by financial innovation. The sector has faced recently a plethora of new entrants, from mobile banking to funding platforms for small and medium-sized businesses. 

 Image: ESBG President Isidro Fainé at 2016 ESBG Retail Banking Conference in Brussels

Leaders from two ESBG member banks gave examples of how retail banks are embracing breakthrough technologies to get even closer to the customer via digital channels – online and mobile.

A panel on the need for proportionality applied to banking rules followed. The session included Madame Pervenche Berès, MEP, and Member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, European Parliament, as well as Andrea Enria, Chairman, European Banking Authority (EBA). The final panel looked at the need for banking regulation to catch up with the digitization of the sector. The discussion focused on the fact that regulation is having to adapt to new ways of banking, which is increasingly digital, a shift that is most evident to the public in the payments sector. Participants also debated the EU Digital Single Market Strategy and the Green Paper on Retail Financial Services, where digital banking services are an important element.


Latest positions updated: Digital Single Market, Retail Financial Services Action Plan

During the conference, ESBG released an update of its positions document covering a slew of EU policy areas affecting savings and retail banking. The 10-page ESBG Positions publication includes an updated stance on risk-weighted assets and the Retail Financial Services Action Plan. It also includes updates to policy stances on liquidity, Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) Review, data protection regulation, the Digital Single Market and the Capital Markets Union.

Sent to EU policymakers and trade body members and made available on the ESBG website, the easy-to-read format is designed to help policymakers to understand better and acknowledge the pressing need for simplified regulation for savings and retail banks in Europe.

Fainé concluded: "Regulators and supervisors need to be aware of our specific activities. We, retail and savings banks, represent a major source of stability and cohesion to the financial system." 


For more information, please contact:

James Pieper on +32 2 211 11 92 or at; or

 Dirk Smet on +32 2 211 11 90 or at


Note to editor:

ESBG – The Voice of Savings and Retail Banking in Europe

ESBG brings together 900 savings and retail banks in 20 European countries that believe in a common identity for European policies. ESBG members represent one of the largest European retail banking networks, comprising one-third of the retail banking market in Europe, with 185 million customers, more than 58,000, total assets of €6.7 trillion, non-bank deposits of €3.5 trillion, and non-bank loans of €3.7 trillion. ESBG members come together to agree on and promote common positions on relevant regulatory or supervisory matters.


ends / all

Retail payments; Proportionality; SME finance; European Institutions; European Supervisory Authorities (EBA-ESMA); Digitalisation; Communication - institutional & commercial; Internet banking; Innovation; Banking Distribution Channels