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KBC Ireland confirms it will exit Synch ‘at appropriate time’

KBC Bank Ireland confirmed on Friday that it will exit “at the appropriate time” the planned mobile money-transfer app, called Synch Payments, that it set up with the other main Irish retail banks in late 2020.

The bank’s comments, responding to questions from The Irish Times, come a day after the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has approved the proposal for Synch Payments, which is aimed at taking on the likes of Revolut and N26.

KBC Ireland decided last year to exit the Republic and has agreed to sell its performing loan book, comprising about €9 billion of mainly mortgages, as well as its deposits portfolio to Bank of Ireland. The Belgian-owned group disposed a €1.1 billion book of non-performing mortgage loans to funds managed by US private equity giant CarVal in February.

‘As part of our orderly wind-down and exit from the Irish market, KBC will be exiting the Synch joint venture,” a spokeswoman for KBC said. “This will be carried out in collaboration with Synch at the appropriate time.”

The CCPC has imposed conditions to make sure the founding shareholders of the planned system, also including AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB, will not deny or delay access to the platform to new entrants to the market or influence future innovation decisions within Synch itself.

It is understood that Synch is planning to lunch the app as soon as the fourth quarter of this year, though the timing may drift to 2023 if it is too close to the busy Christmas shopping season.

The four founding banks have so far injected €10.9 million of capital into Synch. However, KBC has committed the least, amounting to a total of €185,299, according to filings with the Companies Registration Office.

The CCPC said on Thursday that Synch had set out “objective eligibility criteria” for any banks or other financial institutions that wished to become participants in service, with defined timelines for processing of new applications. The company would also have a corporate governance structure, including independent board members, that allowed Synch “to operate with a greater level of independence from its founding shareholders”, the authority said.

Synch would also have “substantial safeguards” to prevent the disclosure of commercially sensitive information, it added.


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