Each month we focus on the work and interests of either a regulator or an in-house counsel. This month we interviewed Jacques Moscianese, Group Head of Antitrust Affairs & Strategic Support at Intesa Sanpaolo.
Tell us something about you and your activity at Intesa Sanpaolo.
I am a passionate antitrust lawyer and, generally speaking, in charge of assuring compliance of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group’s activities with the applicable antitrust and competition legal framework.
Working for a company like Intesa Sanpaolo, one of the most relevant in the banking sector in Europe, a very engaging challenge is understanding the group’s business concerns and issues, and provide pragmatic, practical legal analysis. I am also involved in academic activities.
I am part of the European Centre for Law and Economics at Essec Business School Paris as an “Expert-Associé” for antitrust and competition matters and I used to collaborate with the University of Milan.
Most importantly, I am a proud father and a dedicated husband, hopefully!
What do you think will be the next big challenge in the competition law sphere in the banking sector?
The digital revolution is changing the way we live and undoubtedly touches the banking sector. And the way banks approach this revolution will be crucial to determine how they contribute to the Digital Single Market that the European Commission want to establish.
Digital banking has become a fiercely competitive space, and the rapid uptake of digitization leads to the definition of new business models, the proposition of innovative products/apps, and the set-up of new and innovative partnerships.
A new landscape is taking form and in order to turn this disruption into an opportunity it is crucial to understand the new competitive threats and get prepared.
I am very enthusiastic of this new wave and optimistic, but not naïve, and it is undeniable that there are several critical factors/elements/externalities which must be taken into account. Some examples: (i) Ambiguity in regulation. Industry standard and rules have yet to catch up with disruptive new models, opening a window of opportunity for rapid innovation, sometimes unregulated. (ii) The nature of the competitors: there is a proliferation of non-bank digital players and I am not referring exclusively to start-ups. Technology titans are now providing payment services to consumers and because of their size are able to provide these services either free or for significantly below-markets prices.
What this revolution means for antitrust counsels?
Digital innovation is challenging competition rules. I totally agree that disruption also brings opportunity. On the other hand, to give the different players the same chance to succeed the match, I strongly believe it is crucial to build the right framework to facilitate competition, innovation and to ensure that consumer protection, trust and security are maintained. This framework should also include antitrust rules that are essential in order to protect competition and consumers’ rights.
In this regard, the entry of new competitors in the financial services market should imply a redefinition of some essential concepts of antitrust law.
First of all, the notion of competitor. Indeed, new players are now starting business that are very similar to those of the traditional banks. This could lead to a situation where the financial sector (that we have always known as made up by banks, assurance companies, funds etc.) could encompass new actors of any size, but which do not always apply the same rules of banks even when they operate in the financial services sector. In this respect we cannot ignore that a genuine competitive ecosystem is based on the principle: “same business, same rules”.
Consequently, also the concept of market could be subjected to a transformation due to the entry of new competitors which provide new services. Moreover, modifications of the market and its competition structure should entail an alteration of the market shares of banks and financial institutions, at least in cases where new players’ activities overlap with traditional banking services.
At last, innovation may include also a modification of the concept of essential facility. In fact, Internet as well as the most common mobile OSs are becoming more and more important for doing business, and not only for banks.
In short, competition rules in the EU must tackle these changes in advance. Lawmakers and authorities should start to rethink the above mentioned concepts of antitrust law in order to timely adapt competition rules to this changing landscape.
How does a day at work look like?
Well, I think I am lucky: the only routine I know at work is starting with a good Italian espresso. Otherwise, no one day looks very much like another…covering the full spectrum of EU and Italian competition law and procedures, I have the opportunity to have very active days and to be challenged by really different issues.