Discussion Paper on the Consumer Protection Code and the Digitalisation of Financial Services published

29 Jun 2017 Press Release

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  • Discussion Paper sets out potential risks to consumer protection from digitalisation
  • Six key areas of the Consumer Protection Code examined where consumer benefits and risks from digitalisation most arise - impact on access to financial services, provision of information, suitability requirements, claims and complaints handling and retention of consumer records
  • Views sought on whether the rules remain appropriate in an increasingly digital financial services environment

The Central Bank has published a Discussion Paper on the Consumer Protection Code (the Code) and the Digitalisation of Financial Services.

As in many sectors of the economy, digital technologies are transforming retail financial services and the consumer experience when dealing with firms is changing at an accelerating rate. The digitalisation of financial services and the emergence of new technologies introduce new benefits and risks for consumers. For that reason, the Central Bank considers it timely to consider how the protections under the Code are working to ensure consumers are being protected in an increasingly digital financial services environment.

The publication of the Discussion Paper launches a four-month consultation period seeking views from consumers, regulated financial services firms, FinTech firms and any other interested parties, on how consumers are or should be better protected in an increasingly digital financial services environment. In particular, the Central Bank is seeking views on:

  • whether consumers are adequately protected under existing consumer protection rules contained in the Code;
  • if the Code needs to be enhanced in specific areas; and
  • whether there are impediments in the Code to firms adopting technologies that may be beneficial to consumers.

The Central Bank is seeking views specifically on the requirements of the Code in relation to:

  • Access
  • Provision of information
  • Suitability
  • Complaints handling
  • Claims handling
  • Retention of consumer records/record keeping.

Acting Deputy Governor Bernard Sheridan said, “While there is great potential for digitalisation to transform for the better how financial services are provided to consumers, there are also potential risks which firms need to fully consider when engaging with consumers. The Consumer Protection Code provides a strong framework within which the interests of consumers are protected. However, it is important that we keep this under review to ensure it is delivering the right outcomes for consumers. This Discussion Paper highlights a number of important areas where innovation is impacting consumers and sets out the consumer protection framework which is in place and I would encourage submissions from consumers and consumer groups to help inform our review.”

This Discussion Paper provides an opportunity for stakeholders to contribute in a positive way to protecting consumers now and into the future.

The consultation process will be open for comment for four months until 27 October 2017.

To inform the content of the Discussion Paper, the Central Bank issued a survey to regulated firms seeking information on the new and innovative products and services that have been offered or are in development in the Irish market for consumers in the digital financial services context.

Note

The impact of digitalisation and innovation on financial services and financial services firms is increasing and raises a number of issues for how financial products and services are provided. This Discussion Paper is part of the Bank’s wider consideration of these issues and is seeking views specifically on the requirements of the Consumer Protection Code, and whether the Code protections remain appropriate in a digital environment.

The feedback to this Discussion Paper will inform the Central Bank’s consideration of any potential future policy outputs in the area of consumer protection. Should specific policy proposals be advanced on foot of feedback to this Paper, the Central Bank will bring forward a consultation paper in 2018. In addition, any potential future policy outputs will also be considered in the context of the wider policy environment including any domestic, European Commission or European Supervisory Authority initiatives on FinTech or innovation. Learnings from this project will also be considered in any future review of other parts of the Central Bank’s suite of consumer protection rules in place.

Comments from all interested parties are welcome. The Central Bank also encourages partial responses from stakeholders on those questions that they believe are most relevant to them.

Submissions received will be made available on our website after the deadline for receiving submissions has passed.

This paper will be open for comment until 27 October 2017. Submissions should be made to consumerprotectionpolicy@centralbank.ie  clearly labelled with the subject title “Consumer Protection Code and Digitalisation Discussion Paper.”