The British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said it intends to monitor Bank of Ireland UK's future compliance with banking regulations after it emerged that the bank had breached two of the rules.
The regulator found that the bank contravened part two of the Retail Banking Market Investigation Order by making incorrect information available about its products and services.
It also breached part three which requires banks and building societies that offer personal and business current accounts to publish service quality indicators.
The indicators show whether surveyed account holders would recommend certain aspects of the quality of service offered by a bank or building society to friends or family and must be published within two steps of a bank’s primary mobile banking app screen.
The authority said Bank of Ireland UK provide incorrect information to the open banking platform about the number of branches it had open between June 23 and October 6 last year, stating it had 28 open when in fact 15 had been closed.
The open banking system enables consumers and SMEs to share their bank and credit card transaction data securely with trusted third parties who are then able to provide them with applications and services which save time and money.
The CMA also said that the bank had reported that the opening times for its UK branches and business centres were 10am to 4pm from Monday to Friday, but during the pandemic the bank changed those hours, leading to closures between 12:30pm and 1:30pm.
In this case the different opening times were introduced at the end of June in 2020 and so the information remained incorrect from this date until 21 February 2022, at which point the details were corrected.
The CMA also said Bank of Ireland reported that it operated 199 ATMs in the UK, but on 9 May 2022, the number of Bank of Ireland ATMs was actually 42.
"Bank of Ireland reports that it reduced the number of ATMs from 2 October 2019, completing the programme of closures on 27 April 2022," the CMA’s Director of Remedies, Business and Financial Analysis, Dipesh Shah said in a letter sent to the bank.
"Therefore, this information was incorrect from 2 October 2019 until 27 April 2022."
The CMA also said Bank of Ireland reported that there were eleven incorrect or out of date references to its personal and business current accounts on the open banking platform.
"These included incorrect or out of date information on charges and on features and benefits of these products," Mr Shah said.
The authority said Bank of Ireland also breached part three of the regulations between May 2020 and April 2022, as its mobile banking app did not display a link to the service quality indicators within two steps of the primary mobile banking app screen when accessed through tablet devices.
This is a requirement under the order.
"During this time, 5,041 customers logged on to the app on a tablet device, and therefore could have missed out on receiving important information," Mr Shah said.
The regulator said Bank of Ireland notified it of the part two breach on May 18 this year and of the breach of part three at the start of February.
"The failure to make accurate, comprehensive and up to date product and service information continuously available through Open Banking APIs may result in consumers taking decisions that they would not have taken if they had access to the correct information," Mr Shah wrote.
"For example, third parties can use information from Open Banking APIs to comment on banks' branch and ATM networks. If these networks are smaller than reported, customers can have an incorrect or incomplete understanding of the services available to them."
The CMA said it noted that the breaches had been self-reported and that Bank of Ireland UK has since taken steps to remedy the issues.
As a result the CMA said it does not consider it appropriate to take further formal enforcement action in relation to the breaches at present.
"However, the CMA will consider such action in the event of any further failures," Mr Shah said.
"The CMA will monitor Bank of Ireland’s future compliance closely."
In a statement, Bank of Ireland said it recognises the importance of the CMA's remedies and apologises for the errors.
"The Bank self-identified these issues and has taken comprehensive action to address them and prevent them happening again," it said.
"These actions have been acknowledged by the CMA."
In total the CMA found that six banks, including Bank of Ireland UK, had broken rules under the Retail Banking Market Investigation Order.