EU conducts inspections over limits to bank account access

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Friday it had conducted inspections in some EU states into banks’ alleged anti-competitive practices in limiting rival financial firms from gaining legitimate online access to their customers’ data.

The Commission said in a statement it had “concerns” that the companies involved “may have engaged in anti-competitive practices in breach of EU antitrust rules”. It did not name any company.

It said that banks could have prevented non-bank competitors from gaining online access to account information of their customers to provide financial services, in spite of having obtained prior authorisation from the customers.

The unannounced inspections were carried out on Oct. 3, the commission said. Antitrust inspections are preliminary steps into suspected practices that may not result in formal accusations.

Financial technology, or “fintech” companies had complained of banks limiting their access to customers. Fintech firms provide payment, lending and other services.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; editing by Andrew Roche