The French Banking Federation publishes its annual report “The Banking Industry in 2019”, which highlights the actions and great challenges of the industry in 2019.
In 2019, banks renewed their commitment to serve each and every one of their clients. Together and individually, French banks responded strongly to ever increasing economic and societal expectations. The exceptional circumstances we are seeing in 2020 have reaffirmed this responsiveness.
Be it in response to the challenging social environment in France in early 2019 or the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak in early 2020, banks act fast to deliver far-reaching solutions to all their clients – financially vulnerable individuals, retailers, artisans and businesses affected by social unrest or the coronavirus crisis. This is tangible proof of the key role banks play in society, where they are present across the country and at all key stages in their customers’ lives. They will continue to provide an appropriate response whenever necessary.
True to their role of financing the economy, banks help businesses and individuals achieve their plans. The French lending model is responsible and robust, ensuring that both borrowers and lenders remain solvent. Lending growth was strong in 2019, with a 5.8% increase in loans, and interest rates are among the lowest in Europe.
French banks employ 362,800 people across France, and their network of bank branches providing access to banking services and cash is among the densest in Europe. Meanwhile, banks are pursuing their digital transformation and responding to clients’ new usage habits. Digital solutions round out and enhance banks’ commitment to being close to their customers. As such, banking services are always available to meet
customers’ needs in all circumstances.
French banks have a long-standing commitment to helping their clients manage the energy transition and have collectively reaffirmed their intention to take things further, for example with the creation of an industry-wide Observatory, their work on measuring climate risk exposure, fossil fuel divestment policies, and the ramping up of renewable energy financing.
Digitalisation poses a major challenge in terms of transaction security and the protection of clients’ data and funds. Banks are addressing this with massive investments in cyber security. A level playing field between all
players is needed in this respect. European data protection regulations must be upheld.
The European Union’s sovereignty and independence in the extremely strategic areas of payments and financing are crucial. Following their renewal in 2019, the European institutions must maintain the European Union’s sovereignty with a strong payments industry and by preserving the specific features of its financing system when enacting the Basel Accords. For French banks, this will be one of the main challenges of 2020, since the implementation of these Accords has been postponed to 2023. They remain fully committed to serving all their customers and to financing the economy in France and Europe.
Annual report FBF – The Banking Industry in 2019