Press release 19 November 2018 – 27/2018

Survey of availability and pricing of basic banking services – advances in online and digital services, further weakening in availability of non-digital services

A survey by the FIN-FSA shows that the right of customers to obtain basic banking services under the Act on Credit Institutions is met appropriately overall. The availability of digital banking services and the provision of basic services alternative to online banking nevertheless require further development.

The decreasing number of bank branches serving private customers and a reduction in cash services offered by branch networks have reduced the options available for obtaining banking services. This trend has however been accompanied by an expansion in the network of cash ATMs and increased availability of cashback services at retail stores. The most common prices charged for basic banking services have remained broadly unchanged, with the largest changes to be found in the pricing of withdrawals and deposits at ATMs.

Banking services are still undergoing a strong process of digitisation, as part of the wider digitalisation trend in society. The decrease in the number of branches providing basic banking services to private customers has been met by the increasing diversity of the online and mobile services available.

FIN-FSA monitors the availability of services

The availability of basic banking services is increasingly determined by customers’ ability to use digital services. Many banks have striven to lower the learning curve of using online and mobile services by offering their customers guidance and tailoring their services to accommodate various user groups. The FIN-FSA welcomes this development.

Communications, support and guidance on the use of digital and other new types of services and service channels in the banking sector are, however, not yet sufficient.

“Banks must ensure the availability of basic banking services at fair prices and as an alternative to digital banking services. Our supervisory measures are targeted at examining banks’ practices and provision of basic banking services”, emphasised the FIN-FSA’s Director General Anneli Tuominen in a statement.

The FIN-FSA continues to consider it important that deposit banks

  • provide customers who, in particular, are unable to access online banking and use payment cards a clear and simple set of services that includes alternative banking arrangements at fair prices
  • provide clear and simple online banking services, audit the availability of these services, and develop online services with the aim of achieving the highest possible degree of accessibility for different user groups
  • provide their customers with broad support channels that cover issues including the adoption of services, problems encountered while using the services and changes that are introduced to the services
  • ensure that changes in the provision of services and, in particular, services available at bank branches are communicated adequately to customers
  • provide guidance on authorisation practices, if necessary.

The FIN-FSA presented to the Parliamentary Supervisory Council on 15 November 2018 a survey of the availability and pricing of basic banking services. The survey is based mainly on pilot material available on the consumer payment account comparison website (www.fine.fi/maksutilivertailu, in Finnish), supervisory observations as well as feedback from customers, interest groups and supervised entities.

Survey of availability and pricing of basic banking services

Further information

Jarmo Parkkonen, Head of Department

Requests for interviews are coordinated by FIN-FSA Communications, tel. +358 9 183 5030, weekdays 9.00–16.00.