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Finnish Financial Services Regulator Rules Out Disloyalty Fee's at ATMs Outside the Otto Network

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

by Ron Delnevo

‚ÄčThe Financial Supervisory Authority (FIN-FSA) maintains its earlier guidance that the charge levied on customers for cash withdrawals in euros made in another EU country must be the same as that levied on customers when using Automatia Pankkiautomaatit Oy’s ATM machines (Otto. network). In addition, the FIN-FSA recommends that the service charge levied on customers for cash withdrawals made in Finland using different operators’ ATMs should be no more than the service charge levied when using Otto. network ATMs.

Objectives relating to free movement and increasing competition are key goals of the internal market. The FIN-FSA must also take into consideration the competition and market impacts in Finland of its own actions.

“Competition is generally in the consumer’s interest. The recommendation on domestic pricing is expected to have a positive impact on the supply of ATMs and therefore to increase competition. In the future, consumers would have access to the ATMs of different ATM networks with the same service charges,” says Olli Rehn, Chairman of the Board of the FIN-FSA.

In a letter sent to banks at the end of 2015, the FIN-FSA issued guidance that the charge for cash withdrawals in euros made in another EU country must be the same at that levied on customers when using Otto. ATMs. This guidance was subsequently interpreted such that in Finland, too, service charges levied on customers for cash withdrawals made using different operators’ ATMs cannot be higher than when using Otto. ATMs.

Due to changes in market conditions, the FIN-FSA requested statements from market parties on whether the guidance issued in 2015 is in line with the changing market situation. The FIN-FSA received 23 responses to its request. The request for comments and the statements received have been published on the FIN-FSA’s website. In addition, the FIN-FSA has consulted with other authorities on the issue and has requested an opinion from the European Commission.

According to a statement made by the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA), the market situation to date has not changed or is not changing in a manner such that it would be justified on that basis to change the 2015 guidance on the pricing of cash withdrawals made in another EU country. In addition, both the FCCA and the EU’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager have considered that competitors cannot operate independently of Automatia and its owner banks, because Automatia has, in practice, a monopoly position in Finland’s cash withdrawal market.
Ultimately, the FCCA safeguards the functioning of the market and intervenes in cases of restriction on competition.

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