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Italy’s Antitrust Authority Blocks Intesa Sanpaolo’s Isybank Migration

 |  December 3, 2023

Italy’s competition authority, AGCM, issued a directive on Thursday instructing Intesa Sanpaolo, the country’s largest bank, to halt the proposed transfer of 2.4 million customers to its new mobile-only service, Isybank. This decision marks a significant setback for Intesa’s ongoing efforts to modernize its digital infrastructure and move away from legacy IT systems in favor of cloud technology.

The AGCM had initiated an antitrust probe earlier this month following an increasing number of complaints, which have now reached 5,000, regarding the way Intesa was handling the transfer of clients to Isybank. The antitrust authority is urging Intesa to only move clients who explicitly provide their consent for the migration.

“In this way, account holders will be put in the condition of choosing whether to keep their account with Intesa Sanpaolo or shift to Isybank,” stated AGCM in an official statement.

A primary grievance among customers is that they failed to notice a message from Intesa regarding the migration in time to opt out of Isybank, as it coincided with the August holidays and appeared in their current accounts’ digital inboxes. Intesa CEO Carlo Messina defended the bank’s actions, stating, “We believe we complied with existing regulations, and we did receive authorization from the Bank of Italy and the European Central Bank for the various moves.”

Messina acknowledged the need to improve communication and reassured customers that the bank’s goal is to develop new technology that benefits Italy and encourages innovation. “If we have to improve the way we communicate, we’ll do that,” he added.

In addition to the communication issues, Intesa customers have voiced concerns about the lack of computer access, restricting them to mobile phones only. They have also reported losing the option to create one-off credit card numbers for safer online shopping.

The AGCM’s intervention signals a growing emphasis on consumer rights and consent in the digital banking sector, emphasizing the need for transparent communication and customer-friendly practices. Intesa Sanpaolo now faces the challenge of addressing these concerns and obtaining explicit consent from its customers before proceeding with the migration to Isybank.

Source: Reuters