CaixaBank and Bankia are now just one. After the merger, CaixaBank takes over the reins of the new entity, a titan of retail banking in Spain with market shares close to 25% and more than 20 million customers. Precisely because of its size –it has become the largest national bank by assets– and its clear leadership position in the credit, deposit and office market, Competition has placed conditions on the union to avoid risks of monopoly and financial exclusion.
The National Competition Market Commission (CNMC) has identified 86 postal codes where the high penetration of the entity could harm consumers from the Madrid box. For this reason, the brand new group chaired by José Ignacio Goirigolzarri has acquired a series of commitments regarding the conditions and commissions of the clients in those specific areas, which will be shielded in the short term.
However, a new scenario opens up, especially for Bankia’s clientele, which will begin to notice significant changes when the technological integration of both entities is completed next November. It will be from that moment on when users will have a single operating platform, a single commercial network and a fully unified catalog of products and services.
For the moment, the Bankia website is maintained, although the brand unification work has begun, starting with the most significant buildings, such as the Kio Towers in Madrid. Little by little, electronic channels, branches and ATMs will be personalized. “Until now each entity has competed separately. Any change that affects customers will be communicated to them with transparency and sufficient notice ”, assure sources from the already old Madrid entity.
According to the criteria set by the CNMC, in those locations where its position is predominant, CaixaBank may not modify or worsen the conditions of the original offer to Bankia customers for three years. Nor will you be able to charge them commissions for carrying out an operation at the counter if they used to do it for free and you must open the ATMs to third parties with agreements for 18 months.
Wherever there is a monopoly, the conditions for Bankia clients are maintained for three years
Eduardo Areilza, senior director of Alvarez & Marsal, explains that “the requirements of the CNMC will ensure, on the one hand, that the service that clients currently receive does not deteriorate due to integration where there are prevalent situations and, on the other, that this circumstance is not taken advantage of to prevent the client from looking for the best alternative to banking products “.
However, the EAE Business School professor, Ricardo Zion, considers that the limitations imposed on CaixaBank are of a minor nature, given that it will only have a monopoly position in 21 postal codes, compared to the 11,752 postal codes in Spain. Likewise, he points out that in the field of card issuance, POS terminals and ATMs, the requirements will barely affect 1% of all customers. For her part, Carmen Getino, financial advisor at Getino Finanzas Eafi, indicates that “competition between banks is reduced and consumers lose bargaining power.”