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Intervention by Italy’s AGCM in Intesa Sanpaolo’s Account Migration to Isybank

Overview of the Situation

Italy’s competition authority, Autorita’ Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (AGCM), has intervened in Intesa Sanpaolo’s plan to migrate 2.4 million customer accounts to its digital banking service Isybank. This decision represents a significant moment in the digital banking landscape in Italy and reflects the rising emphasis on consumer rights in the fintech sector.

AGCM’s Intervention and Rationale

  • Suspension of Account Migration: AGCM directed Intesa Sanpaolo to halt the proposed transfer of customer accounts to Isybank. This decision came after more than 5,000 customers sought intervention from the regulator, expressing concerns about the migration process.
  • Requirement for Explicit Consent: The authority emphasized that account holders must give express approval before their accounts are transferred to Isybank. This measure aims to ensure customers have a clear choice between retaining their accounts with Intesa Sanpaolo or shifting to Isybank​​​​​​.
AGCM, Italy

Challenges and Complaints Faced by Customers

  • Communication Issues: A primary issue raised by customers was the bank’s method of communication regarding the migration. Many customers reported not noticing the notification sent during the peak holiday season of August, which was placed in the archive section of the Intesa Sanpaolo app without sufficient follow-up notifications.
  • Service Limitations: Customers migrating to Isybank reportedly lost access to certain services, including the use of bank cheques, mortgage contracts, and the ability to create virtual cards for online purchases. This change significantly impacted how customers interacted with their banking services, as all interactions were limited to the Isybank app​​​​.
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Bank’s Response and Future Plans

  • Bank’s Compliance Claims: Intesa Sanpaolo’s CEO, Carlo Messina, defended the bank’s actions by stating that they complied with existing regulations and received authorization from the Bank of Italy and the European Central Bank for the migration.
  • Isybank’s Strategic Goals: Isybank, a cloud-based mobile bank, targets younger customers who primarily use remote banking services. The bank aims to add 1 million new customers by the end of 2025 and is part of Intesa Sanpaolo’s strategy to focus on more profitable businesses like wealth management and insurance. The first 300,000 account migrations occurred in October, with plans to migrate an additional 2 million in March​​.

Conclusion and Implications

The AGCM’s decision underscores the critical importance of transparent communication and customer consent in the digital banking transition. This intervention signals a shift towards prioritizing consumer rights and may set a precedent for how similar migrations are handled in the future. Intesa Sanpaolo faces the challenge of addressing these concerns and obtaining explicit consent from its customers, highlighting the broader challenges mainstream banks face when transitioning services onto digital platforms.

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