Tuesday, 19 November 2013

More formalised FinCoNet to fight for consumers' interests

I have just returned from lovely Lisbon fresh from the International Financial Consumer Protection Organisation (FinCoNet) Annual meeting where consumer financial protection was the order of the day, says CI's financial services expert Nicola O'Reilly.

And in news hot off the press, we will see a more formalised FinCoNet.

Consumers International, joined by Joao Fernandes from our Portuguese Member Deco Proteste, participated in the meeting as an observer and welcomed interest on our work around responsible lending and mobile payments.

So, what was the main business discussed among the financial supervisors and international organisations?

Well, as you would expect some time was taken to discuss how the organisation would be established.

FinCoNet now has a Governing Council and a Chair,  Bernard Sheridan, the Director of Consumer Protection at the Central Bank of Ireland, and soon to be CI webinar star.

The organisation will also be building its communications tools and membership on an ongoing basis.

It was confirmed that FinCoNet’s work will be done by its members, although it is set to have a small secretariat based at the OECD in Paris – once the agreements are finalised and the paperwork is completed.

The road and the work ahead remains unchanged from the FinCoNet workplan set out at its tenth meeting in London, with working groups focused on Supervisory Institutional Arrangements and Responsible Lending.

A report on responsible lending is due by the end of March next year.

This work will form the basis of recommendations to the G20 summit in Australia in 2014.

CI will run an open webinar on 4 December for an update on what’s happening with FinCoNet and the G20/OECD taskforce at 3pm GMT – details will be on our website soon.

Other consumer protection issues discussed included bank bundling and tying clauses, distorting incentives (a matter CI will be pursuing in 2014), and regulation of electronic banking and payments (CI is already on the case with this one by inputting into the ISO standard on mobile payments and OECD guidelines.

So, a final thought… following an interesting couple of days work, I joined 63,999 others at the Stadium de Luz for Portugal versus Sweden (Portugal won 1-0),  which, at least on the night, represented progress for Portugal on the bumpy road to Brazil for the World Cup in June 2014.

The second leg is on 19 November so we will have to see what happens then.

But what of Consumer’s progress on the road to the G20 in Australia? Well, we will have to wait and see what the first and second working groups can do to make it a road worth travelling.

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