Memorandum by Barclays plc
CREATING CONSUMER CONFIDENCE AND STIMULATING
1. Barclays has led the way amongst UK financial
institutions in working to develop alternative consumer redress
procedures. We believe establishing a cross-border redress system
will go a long way to increase consumer confidence in e-commerce.
2. There is a dispute concerning the cross-border
provision of retail financial services between those who stress
single market principles and those who stress consumer protection
as the overriding priority. The issue is how can a single market
for financial services operate in a framework where consumers
have the confidence to buy from service providers based in another
3. Developing suggestions first made by
Malcolm Levitt, Barclays' EU Adviser, in 1998 as part of the Financial
Services Strategy Review Group, we have produced a paper setting
out our proposals (attached). These were presented at the Commission
hearings into the Brussels convention in November 1999 and have
been circulated widely to interested parties including MEPs and
members of the European Commission.
4. Our suggestion envisages a network of
nationally based ombudsmen across the EU. Each would deal with
complaints against companies based in their country and would
act as a co-ordinating point for consumers from their country
with complaints about companies based overseas. This could provide
consumers with the necessary confidence to use e-commerce to transact
across borders without the costs, complexity and ineffectiveness
of going to court to settle disputes.
5. We are convinced that this type of structure
needs to be put in place to generate consumer confidence in cross-border
trade that the use of e-commerce will undoubtedly promote. We
therefore welcome any developments with this in mind.