The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD, has today (Tuesday 23 November 2021) published the Terms of Reference for a Retail Banking Review.
The Department of Finance will conduct a broad-ranging review of the retail banking sector in Ireland, with the assistance of other relevant Government agencies and Departments, and report to Minister Donohoe in November 2022.
Today’s publication follows the Minister’s announcement in the Dáil on 1 July 2021 that his Department would conduct such a review.
The Terms of Reference require a review of:
the current retail banking landscape and likely market trends over the next decade;
the size and structure of the sector in comparison with similar sized open economies to see what lessons can be learned;
the business model and the operational challenges of implementing this model;
the structural changes stemming from fintech and digital finance, which are disrupting the traditional model;
the implications of Covid-19 and Brexit;
competition, consumer protection and consumer choice;
the provision of sustainable lending to the SME sector; and
options to develop the mortgage market.
The Review will involve extensive consultation with stakeholders, and will include a public consultation to invite views from the public and stakeholders on the key aspects of the review.
Speaking today, Minister Donohoe said:
“Retail banking has been undergoing a period of significant change over the last decade, due to difficult economic circumstances at the start of the decade and the advancements in technology and fintech in recent years. Covid-19 and Brexit have further accelerated the rate of change.
In this context, it is necessary and timely that we now assess how the system can best support social and economic activity for our citizens and businesses.”
On 1 July 2021, the Minister for Finance announced in the Dáil, that his Department would conduct a broad-ranging review of the retail banking sector.
This decision followed a number of announcements in the Spring in relation to the structure of the sector, including:
NatWest’s announcement that it is going to undertake a phased withdrawal from the Irish market,
Bank of Ireland’s decision to close over a third of its branch network, and
KBC’s announcement that it is undertaking a number of transactions that will, if completed, lead to its withdrawal from the Irish market.
The Government noted the Terms of Reference for the Review at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 16th November 2021.
The Department is currently putting in place a dedicated team to conduct the Review. The team will engage with other Government Departments and Agencies, including the Central Bank of Ireland and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
The Department also intends to engage extensively with stakeholders including the Banking and Payment Federation of Ireland and the Financial Services Union, and to carry out a public consultation.
Retail banking focus
The focus of the Review will be on Retail banking services, such as current accounts, saving accounts, consumer and SME credit, and mortgages.
The Review will consider services provided by both banks and non-banks, as the latter are becoming increasing more active in the provision of SME credit and, more recently, in the offer of mortgages, particularly longer term fixed rate products.