News

07 December 2012
Press release
Authorisation

PostFinance LTD: FINMA issues conditional banking licence

The Board of Directors of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA has decided to issue PostFinance Ltd with a licence to operate as a bank and securities dealer. Before the licence enters into force, the company must, however, provide proof of having met a number of conditions regarding its organisation, financial situation and human resources.

In its ruling of 6 December 2012, the FINMA Board of Directors issued PostFinance Ltd with a conditional banking licence to operate as a bank and securities dealer. The licence will come into force once PostFinance Ltd provides proof of having fully met a number of conditions relating to its organisation, financial situation and human resources.

High supervisory requirements

The licensing process lasted for a total of two and a half years. From the outset, FINMA underlined that PostFinance Ltd must fulfil the supervisory requirements as is the case for any other financial institution of that size and complexity. In line with FINMA's risk-based supervisory approach, this particularly concerns capital adequacy, operational requirements and the intensity of supervision carried out by FINMA.

During the licensing process, FINMA also took into consideration that the Confederation will own PostFinance Ltd and that its extensive cooperation with other companies belonging to the Swiss Post raised certain questions and involved a number of risks. Specific corporate governance requirements and financial relations between PostFinance Ltd and the Swiss Post Group were taken into account against this background situation. Money laundering prevention was also given high priority. 

Solid basis for a banking licence

The FINMA Board of Directors considers the planned organisational structure, capitalisation and composition of staff at PostFinance Ltd to provide a solid basis for its banking and securities dealing activities as well as its subsequent supervision by FINMA. FINMA expects PostFinance Ltd to fulfil the remaining open conditions within a reasonable period of time. In order for the licence to take legal effect, the Federal Council must make the necessary decisions about hiving off PostFinance into a limited company.

Why does PostFinance Ltd need a banking licence?

Swiss Post currently operates as a financial services provider through its PostFinance division. It accepts deposits from third parties on a professional basis and must fulfil its statutory public service function when making payment transactions. It has been performing these financial services without a banking licence which is only possible under a statutory exemption clause (cf. Art. 3a para. 1 BO). The Postal Act and Postal Organisation Act now stipulate that the PostFinance division will be hived off to form a limited company under civil law. This means that said exemption clause ceases to apply and that the new PostFinance Ltd therefore requires a licence to operate as a bank and securities dealer. Moreover, the revised postal legislation prohibits PostFinance Ltd from independently offering loans and mortgages.

Contact

Tobias Lux, Media Spokesperson, phone +41 (0)31 327 91 71, tobias.lux@finma.ch