The European Commission provided details of its investigation in its newly published annual report on competition policy for 2018.
Under EU payment services laws, account information service providers (AISPs) and payment initiation service providers (PISPs) have qualified rights to access payment accounts, like current accounts, and statement details, as well as other account information, operated by banks and other account servicing payment service providers (ASPSPs) where customers consent to such access. From 30 September, a range of further legal and technical standards will apply to govern such access.
In its report, the Commission said it "closely monitors the ongoing technological change and the emergence of new financial service providers" in the payments market.
"As technology allows new services to emerge, such as electronic and mobile payments, with significant potential benefits for consumers and businesses notably in the digital single market, the Commission has continued to monitor developments in the new payments services and the Commission continued antitrust investigation concerning allegations that online access to bank account information by competing non-bank owned service providers may be prevented in order to exclude such service providers from the market," the Commission said.
"It is important to ensure that new and innovative services have a fair chance to develop and that incumbents do not exclude new market entrants or attempt to secure substantive parts of markets for themselves," it said.
Competition law expert Alan Davis of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "The Commission’s annual report highlights the growing importance of technology and innovation in delivering payment services and recognises the competitive benefits this may generate for consumers. The UK’s financial regulators, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Payment Systems Regulator, are similarly focused on technological developments in payments. Both regulators share concurrent competition powers with the Competition and Markets Authority, as well as some complementary regulatory powers in the financial sector."
"The FCA and PSR published their respective annual reports last week commenting on their latest work. The PSR in particular reports the outcome of its recent work on contactless mobile payments, the progress of its market review into card-acquiring services, whose terms of reference acknowledge technological changes in payments, and its ongoing work on improving access to payment systems for payment service providers (PSPs) which include fintechs," he said.