Irish banks’ payments app plan to take on Revolut hits snag

Application did not contain enough information, competition commission says

Revolut, the UK-headquartered main digital platform in the Irish market, was only established in 2015 and claims to have already picked up about 1.2 million Irish users since its launch here in 2019. Photograph: Getty Images

Revolut, the UK-headquartered main digital platform in the Irish market, was only established in 2015 and claims to have already picked up about 1.2 million Irish users since its launch here in 2019. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A plan by a group of Irish banks to set up an instant money-transfer app to take on the likes of Revolut and N26 has hit a stumbling block, as the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) pushed back their application to set up a joint venture because they did not provide enough information.

An application on the planned venture, called Synch Payments, was filed with the CCPC earlier this month by AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB and KBC Bank Ireland.

Project

The project is being co-ordinated by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) and Italian fintech giant Sia has been lined up to provide the technology.

“Following a preliminary review of the notification, the CCPC has formed the view that the notifying parties have not provided full details of the proposed transaction as required,” the CCPC said in a statement on Thursday evening.

The CCPC said it was unable to determine whether the planned transaction was a merger or acquisition within the meaning of Irish competition laws.

“As a result, the CCPC has also been unable to determine whether the proposed transaction should have been notified to the CCPC on a mandatory basis,” it said, adding that it has rejected the notification as invalid.

“The CCPC has written to the notifying parties informing them of its decision and expressed its willingness to further engage,” it said.

A spokesperson for BPFI said: “We see this as a return of the application form. We welcome the CCPC’s statement of their willingness to engage with the parties involved in relation to the issues which they have raised and we look forward to engaging with them on all of the detail.”

Threat

Traditional banks are facing a threat to their card and payments operations from challenger platforms, such as UK fintech operators Revolut and Monzo and Germany’s N26.

Revolut, the UK-headquartered main digital platform in the Irish market, was only established in 2015 and claims to have already picked up about 1.2 million Irish users since its launch here in 2019.

The fear among mainstream banks is that as so-called neobanks continue to build up market share in payments, they will ultimately have a ready customer base for future lending and other financial products.

The move by Irish banks to try to set up an instantaneous payments app underscores how the industry as a whole is behind the curve in having the technology in place to join the Single European Payment Area (Sepa) instant payment system.