June 26, 2007

Cross-Border Personal Banking in Ireland: A Study Day

25 people attended this study day, including representatives from all the main banks (except the Bank of Ireland), the Irish Banking Federation, the General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland, the Consumers Association of Ireland, citizens advice bodies, theEuropean Consumer Centre (Dublin), the North/South Ministerial Council and people from business and community organisations in the border region.

The chairman, Professor Ray Kinsella of the Michael Smurfit Business School at UCD, spoke highly of the work of the financial regulator (Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority) in the Republic, and proposed that steps should be taken to institute an all-island system of consultation on financial regulation.

The Regional General Manager of National Irish Bank, Mr Jim Deeney, said NIB and Northern Bank – now owned by the Danske Bankgroup – were part of a single technology platform developed by that international group. This meant that the two Irish banks would be able to offer cross-border Internet banking free of charge in the near future. This is not a service currently offered by any bank on the island to personal customers. The study day was also addressed by Mr Rory McClurg, Ulster Bank‘s Head of Retail Support in Northern Ireland.

There was a strong presentation from Eleanor Gill, Chief Executive of the General Consumer Council of Northern Ireland, on the successful ‘super-complaint’ the GCS (NI) had taken to the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission in the UK about some of the practices of the four main banks in the province. It was agreed that the issues identified – particularly over-charging on overdrawn current accounts – were also relevant to bank customers south of the border. There is no facility for any body to take such a collective case on behalf of customers to the financial regulator in the Republic of Ireland.

There was also discussion of the option of allowing customers to approach the consumer councils on both sides of the border with complaints. It was said that since the financial products being sold were often the same or very similar, the two consumer bodies should work more closely together on behalf of the island’s customers.

The study day was held in tandem with the Border Ireland website (borderireland.info), and is part of the Centre for Cross Border Studies’ commitment to consult widely about cross-border services under the terms of its contract with the North/South Ministerial Council to develop a cross-border mobility information website (www.borderpeople.info).

A full report on this event will be posted on the Centre’s website and on the Border Ireland website in September.

PROGRAMME

9.30 am Registration and refreshments
10.00 Opening remarks by chairman, Professor Ray Kinsella, Director, Centre for Insurance Studies, School of Business, University College Dublin
10.15 Mr Rory McClurg, Head of Retail Support, Ulster Bank, Belfast
10.30 Mr Jim Deeney, Regional General Manager for the Midlands Region, National Irish Bank
10.45 Questions and Discussion
11.15 Refreshments
11.45 Mrs Eleanor Gill, General Consumer Council for Northern Ireland
12 pm Mr John Cradden, Consumers Association of Ireland
12.15 Questions and Discussion
1.15 Closing remarks by chairman
1.30 Lunch
2.30 Close

See the briefing paperpdf icon [180 kb] and the list of Attendees [13 kb]

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