Central Bank to beef up consumer protection online

Regulator has invited submissions on current framework in light of increased activity

The Central Bank is to beef up its protections for consumers to take account of the boom in online banking.

The regulator said on Thursday it was seeking submissions from stakeholders on whether its safeguards are fit for purpose in light of the changing landscape of financial services.

“The digitalisation of financial services and the emergence of new technologies introduce new benefits and risks for consumers,” it said.

“For that reason, the Central Bank considers it timely to consider how the protections under the Consumer Protection Code are working to ensure consumers are being protected in an increasingly digital financial services environment.”


The bank has published a discussion paper to mark the beginning of a four-month consultation period seeking views from consumers, regulated financial services firms, fintech firms and any other interested parties.

In particular, the Central Bank is seeking views on whether consumers are adequately protected under existing consumer protection rules.

Adopting technologies

It also wants to know 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.

In the discussion paper, the bank says the rules in the code are in keeping with a “technology-neutral” stance, meaning that the same principles of regulation apply equally to digital and other traditional delivery environments.

“Notwithstanding this, some requirements are long established from previous iterations of the codes that were developed with more traditional retail financial services markets in mind,” it says.

“Given the increase in technological advancement and digitalisation in financial services, and the benefits and risks that may arise for consumers, we are seeking to ensure that that innovation develops in a manner that ensures the best interests of consumers are protected.”

Central Bank acting deputy governor Bernard Sheridan said there were "potential risks" firms need to consider when dealing with consumers.

Potential risks

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter