Earlier this week, the German competition regulator declared a landmark ruling against the German banking industry. The Bundeskartellamt declared that banks’ terms and conditions are violating competition law by restricting alternative online payment services.
The ruling prevents banks from trying to restrict consumer access to third party solutions, such as apps, built on top of bank infrastructure. This is the first time that any European authority has ruled a verdict in line with the PSD2 EU directive, which aims to create a level playing field in the payment services sector to encourage competition, innovation and security.
Commenting on the Bundeskartellamnt’s decision, Jens Lütcke, CEO SOFORT: “The verdict is an important milestone for the relationship between banks and SOFORT GmbH. We hope that this paves the way for a mutually beneficial cooperation in the future. Our existing partnerships with banks — such as the Raiffeisen Group, BAWAG P.S.K., Oberbank, Hypo Tirol and BKS in Austria as well as DKB in Germany — have proven that both sides can benefit from one another. We give banks a great competitive edge in e-commerce, securing their long-term market position vis-à-vis other players in the financial services industry ‒such as PayPal and others. Unfortunately not all market players seem to have recognized this, and thus we continue to see banks obstructing our efforts in some member states of the European Union. However, we remain confident that this behavior will change over time. It makes little sense for the banking industry as well as for SOFORT to spend time on legal procedures while other providers – many of them with a lower degree of integration into the system of the banks – divide the market among themselves.”
Erik Engellau-Nilsson from Klarna: “This resolution represents a landmark moment for the European banking industry, and is the strongest indication yet that co-operation, not competition, is the future for banks and fintechs. The implementation of the EU Payment Services Directive (PSD2) will allow third party players to have direct access to the banking infrastructure and therefore offer a host of innovative products and applications to a bank’s customers. The banks that will thrive are the ones that embrace this opportunity for collaboration and innovation by willingly opening up their infrastructure. It will be very interesting to see what approach the banks will take to this – will they become Apple or Nokia?”