NewsSeven banks have abandoned the Irish market. There are only three left.

Seven banks have abandoned the Irish market. There are only three left.

KBC Bank has announced it is leaving the Irish market. Ulster Bank is also leaving. Bank of Scotland, Irish Nationwide, Danske Bank, Anglo Irish and ACC Bank are long gone. With seven banks gone, there are now only three retail banks left in the country.

We have a worsening problem with competition in Ireland. For a very long time banking, insurance, retail and energy providers were dominated by UK providers. With Brexit, their commitment to this market is reduced. Unfortunately free market competition won’t always solve the problem, the Irish market is too small and not profitable enough to attract new competitors in many sectors. It was different when we were effectively part of the UK market. No Government agency currently has a mandate to ensure Irish consumers are offered continued choice through new competitors and forward looking market analysis.

The Consumer and Competition Protection Commission (CCPC) makes no mention on its website of the loss of KBC or the steady stream of Bank departures over the last years even though competition is clearly being reduced. This is possibly because the CCPC does not have a forward-looking mandate to ensure that markets attract new players to compete for the benefit of consumers. The CCPC mandate is to protect consumers from existing players in the market, approve mergers, deal with complaints, and make sure consumer protection regulations are followed. It is unfortunate, but the fewer competitors there are in a market, the fewer problems the CCPC are likely to have to deal with.

The only new banking entrants Ireland is likely to see are online banks such as N26. However, the CCPC warns “there are also drawbacks to this type of service, such as being uncertain if they are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland”. It is of course entirely legal for Banks operating in Ireland to be licenced by other European Central Banks, N26 for example is regulated by the German Central Bank. I believe our Regulators could be more encouraging and supportive of new entrants to the Irish market.

The real problem here is Political, the CCPC doesn’t have the powers or the mandate to encourage new competitors to any market, powers it should have. Market failure is currently not the CCPC’s problem, but it is a growing problem for consumers.

That is why we at continue to do our best to bring new competitors to the Irish market and increase choice for all our members.

Has the loss of seven banks over the last years affected you? Where else are you seeing lack of competition in the market? Do you think a lack of competition has increased prices or reduced service? Share your experiences below.

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Seven banks have abandoned the Irish market. There are only three left.

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Anonymous from WD commented:

Poor customer service and high bank charges. Government charges for having a credit card and using a debit card. Even if there was any interest being paid, the Government takes 35% of that too. Just switched away from AIB to bank with N26 and my local credit union. At least with the credit union the money stays local rather than adding big profits to big Irish banks. 

Anonymous from C commented:

Previous banks cry out and leave due to lack of profits but all of Europe has low interest rates!! After living in Britain the Banking choice and customer service provided was outstanding. The old 3 Irish banks will squeeze every penny our of their customers. Unless the new online banking startups enters the mortgage industry to shake up this stagnant industry. 

Anonymous from C commented:

With the withdrawal of Ulster bank. I and thousands of other customers will be greatly disrupted by the closure. Especially with the inconvenience of choosing which of the remaining banks to choose. Ulster Bank is the most suitable for my needs. Peter from Cork. 

john from D commented:

Not a good idea to have all anonymous comments Even if there are many valid comments, people should have the courage to put their names behind them 

Anonymous from LK commented:

Banks have scr*we’d use for years, I am now moving all my Fiat money into crypto currency eg ( SwissBorg) or ( Bitwala DE) and becoming my own bank and manager. 

Anonymous from C commented:

AIB, BOI and PTSB will have a field day. No competition, o/d and loan rates will rise, inept cent bank regulators will stand idly by, data Protection office will remain as slow as molasses in sorting out Sar requests, FSPO will do all in their power to avoid dealing with customer issues. The customer will be treated with contempt as all these regulatory Quangos are not worth a dam! This will put the country back years. We need more competition and proper regulation. 

maurice from D commented:

What about RABO bank and Northern Bank ? That's 9 banks, I know that it's a PITA changing banks after they close, However the loan book KBC are selling have 20% mortgage arrears on them. We are all paying extra in our repayments to cover these losses. Ridiculous that someone can live in a house for 9 years without paying their mortgage. I use N26 for direct debits and revolut for day to day. No fees yet!! 

Anonymous from D commented:

The problem is the lack of effective regulation of the Banks, which has seen them be allowed to penalize the poor people who were forced to keep these corrupt institutions afloat, whilst they pander to their rich customers. Prime example is having to keep a minimum €5000 in your account, which they changed from having to deposit €5000 minimum per month. Even the middle class who might be able to deposit this amount, would struggle to keep that amount available. So where does that leave the poor ? I would like to see them all sink in a mire of self-made corruotion, PROVIDED the staff received payouts, and the fat cats at the top who do nothing but make staff cuts and branch cuts whilst increasing charges, should get NOTHING. And that includes the fat cat shareholders. 

Anonymous from D commented:

Irish people should be able to go to a bank anywhere in the EU and open an account. You will get more interest on your euro . The Irish banks are keeping interest low. After all we the people have put in millions of euros and this is the way they repay us. Very soon the banks will have no one working for them because it will be done online. CashLess and People Less. Iam going to open an account in An other country. As I said: you will get better service and interest there. Kind Regards Bill 

Frank from C commented:

Credit unions are now a viable alternative to the mainstream banks. They offer current accounts and mortgages 

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