Consumer financial services, also called retail financial services, are financial services offered to ordinary consumers. They cover a wide array of products such as:
- current and savings accounts
- payment services
- credit cards
- investment products
The Commission aims to promote transparency and consumer protection in this area. Consumers should be able to make well-informed decisions about financial products, and feel confident that they are adequately protected. The Commission also aims to further integrate the market.
There is not yet a fully integrated EU single market for retail financial services. These services still operate largely on a national basis and it remains difficult for consumers to access or transfer certain financial products across borders, such as most insurance products or mortgage credit. As a result, consumers do not always receive the benefits of increased competition such as more choice and cheaper prices.
EU actions so far
The EU has taken a number of measures to promote a competitive and safe retail financial services market in Europe. These include:
- measures to guarantee an EU-wide right of access to basic bank accounts
- rules to protect deposits of up to €100,000 in the case of bank failure
- initiatives to increase the level of consumer protection and facilitate the cross-border distribution of insurance, mortgages and consumer credit
- improved consumer protection rules for distance marketing of financial services and retail investment products
Consumer financial services action plan
EU measures on retail financial services have led to positive outcomes, but more has to be done to achieve a fully integrated European market in this area.
To identify remaining barriers, the Commission held a consultation and a public hearing to gather the views of a broad variety of stakeholders. In parallel, a special Eurobarometer survey was also launched to collect more evidence on the consumer financial services market.
In March 2017 the European Commission published an action plan setting out a strategy to strengthen the EU single market for retail financial services. The action plan seeks in particular to harness the potential of digitalisation and technological developments (FinTech) to improve consumer access to financial services across the EU.
Digital services such as mobile banking, peer-to-peer lending and price comparison websites present many opportunities for service providers and consumers and they could promote better integration of the single market in consumer financial services.