CMA takes action against NatWest for breaching parts of the Retail Banking Order
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has taken action against Royal Bank of Scotland-owner NatWest for breaking parts 2 and 10 of the Retail Banking Order 2017.
The CMA wrote a letter to the banking giant, which has agreed to take action to put things in order for customers.
Part 2 of the Retail Banking Order requires the largest banks in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to ensure accurate, comprehensive and up to date product and service information is continuously available through Open Banking.
NatWest breached Part 2 by making incorrect information available about its products and services. The bank failed to update records between 15 June 2021 and 19 August 2021 to show that there had been 11 branch closures. The CMA argued that viewers of the API data may therefore have thought that these branches were open for business when they were not.
The bank further breaches article 12.1.1(c) of the Order by failing to update records between 15 June 2021 and 19 August 2021 to show that there had been 9 ATM closures.
Again, the CMA said viewers of the API data may therefore have thought that these ATMs where available for use when they were not.
NatWest breached Article 40 of the Order because, between 18/19 September 2021 and 2 February 2022, the information it shared with independent comparison tools on its small business loans included incorrect interest rates.
As a result, small businesses accessing this information may have thought NatWest’s rates for small business loans were more competitive than they actually were. The CMA notes that none of the referrals from the independent comparison tools for the affected products resulted in loans being drawn down by customers.
In response to the CMA action, NatWest has told the watchdog that it has introduced early identification of planned branch closures, so resource is allocated to ensure changes are implemented on time and without error with respect to ATM/branch location APIs.
The bank has also improvement management information with with respect to branch/ATM API performance and operational awareness of system and validation errors.
NatWest has also told the CMA that the pricing change checklist for NatWest small business loans is to be enhanced to set out the full end-to-end process when it comes to updating API and third-party feeds.
It has introduced a monthly third-party data feed check as part of its existing order control activities. The bank also plans to run a refresher training session to the business representatives responsible for inputting pricing change information into these third-party feeds.