The non-profit association Financité has filed a complaint with the Belgian competition authority against two new interbank networks of ATMs. This nonprofit has been fighting downsizing that network for some time now.
Financité’s complaint is against Batopin – a public limited company whose shareholders are the country’s four largest banks, BNP Paribas Fortis, KBC, ING and Belfius – and Jofco, a cooperative of smaller institutions, such as Argenta, AXA Bank and Bpost. The non-profit association describes it as “incomprehensible” that such companies “focusing on greatly reducing the service to users, could arise seemingly without any restrictions”.
Last year, Batopin announced the replacement of the more than 5,000 ATMs currently installed in its shareholders’ bank branches with 2,000 to 2,400 “neutral” ATMs at 650 to 750 locations within a 5-kilometer radius around the home for 95 percent of clients. Population and within a maximum radius of 10 km around the house for 98 percent of the population. Finance, which is working towards greater financial inclusion, opposes this plan.
It now appears that Financité is legally attempting to impede implementation of that plan through action with the Belgian competition authority. “We were concerned about the two initiatives launched in 2019 and 2020 for interbank management of ATM networks,” said researcher Anne Felley of Financité. Evening. “After investigation, we concluded that no file was submitted to the Belgian competition authority before the establishment of these two companies, which seems to us to be against the law in this area.”
Finance also describes the two projects as an “anti-competitive practice”.