In parallel to the two consultations launched by the European Commission (EC) at the beginning of April 2020 on digital finance strategy/FinTech and retail payments (see our previous alert here), the French Competition Authority (FCA) has just launched a public consultation on the FinTech sector, focusing in particular on payment services.

The consultation is available here in French – and for convenience, we have provided an English translation of the questions below.

The consultation is open for comments until 19 June 2020.

This consultation takes place in the context of the sector inquiry launched by the FCA in early 2020 in relation to the impact of new technologies applied to financial services, and in particular payment services in France. This inquiry was announced by the FCA as part of its 2020 roadmap and should be completed by the end of 2020.

In its consultation, the FCA underlines the major changes that the sector has faced over the past few years, including significant technological developments in the financial services sector, and in particular the payment sector, with the arrival of new players (FinTech companies including digital giants such as Apple and Google), and the adaptation of incumbent banking groups to these new developments.

The consultation consists of 12 questions structured in three sections:

  1. developments in the payments industry in recent years;

  2. definition of the relevant markets and analysis of the position and competitive advantages of the various players;

  3. commercial practices that may be implemented by the various players.

One particular topic that respondents can be expected to bring to the attention of the FCA is the technical restriction that Apple has put around the NFC antenna in the iPhone, which is already subject to competition law enforcement by the EC (see our separation client alert on this topic here).

Courtesy translation from French of the 12 questions:

First section: the evolution of the payments sector in recent years:

  1. How do you view the entry of FinTech companies within the payments sector in France?

  2. How do you view the entry of digital giants within the payments sector in France?

  3. How do the view the acquisition of FinTech companies specialising in payment services by banking groups?

  4. What do you see as the impact of technologies such as cloud and blockchains on the functioning of the payments services sector?

    Second section: definition of the relevant markets and analysis of the position and competitive advantages of the various players:

  5. Are you of the view that the various payments services offered by new entrants in France (FinTech companies, digital giants, internet service providers) compete with the services provided by banking groups, or complement the existing offering?

  6. What do you think are the elements that may provide payment services (banking groups, FinTech companies, digital giants, other) a significant competitive advantage, or perhaps even market power?

  7. What do you think are the main competitive advantages that the existing market players providing payment services in France benefit from?

  8. Do you think that some of the existing players in the payments market in France already benefit from strong market power? If so, which ones?

    Third section: commercial practices that may be implemented by the various players:

  9. Are you aware of any competition issues in the sector for new technologies applied to payment services? If so, which ones?

  10. Are you aware of any competition issues in relation to the developments of crypto-assets? If so, which ones?

  11. Are you aware of any competition issues, in relation to the use of blockchains, by certain market players in the sector for new technologies applied to payment services? If so, which ones?

  12. In regards to your payment services, are you aware of any competition issues related to the provision of cloud services? If so, which ones? 

Should you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to contact the Bird & Bird global payments team.

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If you would like to read Bird & Bird's previous alerts, please check out our Payments In Focus webpage here.

 

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