FCCA decision increases competition on the payment market

In relation to its new mobile payment system, Automatia Pankkiautomaatit Oy has given the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) its commitments concerning the technical implementation and procedures of the system. The commitments eliminate any competitive problems regarding in the Automatia system. The commitments also improve the possibility of other companies to gain access to the mobile payment market, increasing the number of options available to consumers.

In March 2017, Automatia introduced a payment system that enables real-time wire transfers between customers of different banks. Automatia is owned by Danske Bank plc, Nordea Bank AB, Finnish Branch, and OP Cooperative. In September 2016, FCCA expressed its initial view according to which Automatia’s payment system may result in adverse competitive effects on the market of real-time payments.

Automatia’s system utilises a nationally customised technical standard in processing wire transfers. According to FCCA’s assessment, this would reduce the incentives of foreign payment service providers to join Automatia’s system and, consequently, the possibility of the customers joining the system to start using competing, Pan-European standards in the future. To avoid a potential problem with competition, Automatia is now also committed to offering interfaces that conform to the Pan-European standard.

Automatia is also committed to offering all parties to the system the possibility to participate in decision-making and its preparation, with respect to the common policies and technical requirements. This ensures that Automatia and its shareholder banks or system vendor will not gain a production advantage over other companies operating on the market.

In addition, Automatia undertakes to remove the requirement in the system’s rules that the identity of the user of the payment service is verified with so-called strong authentication, e.g., online banking credentials. According to FCCA’s initial assessment, the requirement on strong authentication would have prevented the possibility of offering consumers the use of weak authentication in connection with low-risk payments. This weak authentication would have been a user name and password the users would have created themselves.

In its initial assessment, FCCA also noted the terms of joining Automatia’s system, as they may influence the access to market of service providers that compete with the shareholder banks. Automatia is committed to offering its services to all operators in the field unless refusal can be proven necessary after objective assessment. Automatia also commits to keeping the payments related to the system reasonable, cost-based and non-discriminating.