World Markets

British watchdog puts further retail bank reforms on hold


LONDON, Jan 15 () - Britain's markets regulator sought to calm bank concerns that it plans further changes that could end free in-credit banking, saying it will see how reforms to boost competition pan out before starting new ones.

"I don't have a view that we need to make further change other than what we are already consulting on," Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Chair Charles Randell said on Tuesday.

Britons are used to not paying for writing or cashing cheques, withdrawing or depositing cash or other services, as long as their accounts remain in credit. But critics say the costs are borne by the customer in other ways.

The issue was whether new entrants and ways of targeting customers will erode revenues and make so-called free banking unsupportable, Randell said.

It was unclear whether reforms introduced a year ago to allow new entrants to use data from a customer's bank to offer rival services would deliver significant customer benefits.

"My concern is that if we go in all guns blazing with some very interventionist measures which try to cap prices and shake markets, then we will affect the outcome of open banking," Randell said.

There is no free banking in practice as customers were paying for current accounts through low returns on deposits and high, random fees on overdrafts, Randell said.

"The question is do they know what they are actually getting... and if they are given choices, will they take those choices instead."

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