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Eu Banking: Beyond Borders

Retail Banking in the European Union, amidst fierce competion is undergoing a change in process, thought and way of functioning. Dave Birch attended a seminar, hosted by Barclays and organised by the Centre for European Reform and outlined his thoughts about the current sea of change in this post. He talks about how banks in the EU are focusing on having pan-European solutions and have therefore doubled their cross border business within the EU, rather than outside the continent. As was clear from the RBS-Barclays fight to acquire ABN Amro, the EU banking sector is more competetive than it ever was. However, the lack of connection between the operations of retail banks in different countries has left banking inefficient and consumers dissatisfied. This stems from the fact that for many reasons; it hasn’t been easy for new entrants to set up shop in each other’s countries. Share prices have been consistently high and rising, eliminating the possibility of buying in a considerable share to be able to enter. About a decade ago, British banks tried to become more pan-European but that push didn’t generate huge results, so they focused on expanding their domestic businesses instead. In a way, this was good for the consumers in Britain who now avail of the vast network that allows them more access than most other countries. Birch talks about payments, capital requirements and what it will take for the EU banking sector to finally make seamless pan-European banking possible.

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