The three European Supervisory Authorities (EBA, EIOPA and ESMA - ESAs) published today a joint thematic Report on national financial education initiatives on digitalisation, with a focus on cybersecurity, scams, and fraud. The Report identifies good practices that national competent authorities and other public entities can follow when designing and implementing their financial education initiatives.
Access to digital channels and digital infrastructure has become a prerequisite for consumers to make use of financial services, and this trend has intensified in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Against this backdrop, the three ESAs highlight the fact that a lack of financial literacy and unfamiliarity with digital technologies can increasingly lead to financial vulnerability and exclusion of consumers. More specifically, without appropriate digital financial skills and the ability to ensure their cybersecurity, consumers are more at risk of becoming victims of scams and fraud.
To address this issue, the ESAs have identified 12 good practices that can help national competent authorities (NCAs) and other public entities increase the reach and effectiveness of their financial education initiatives and thereby help improve consumers’ digital financial literacy. Amongst others, the ESAs consider it good practice to:
- publish a blacklist of fraudulent providers to help digitally literate consumers properly assess the financial risks arising from financial products and services linked to new technologies, such as crypto assets.
- reach technology-averse consumers not only through digital, but also non-digital, channels and teach them how to use digital tools to access financial services safely.
- work closely with teachers to understand their specific educational needs, as well as help them develop and test adequate educational material, so that they can serve as multipliers of students’ financial education.
- package financial education initiatives appropriately to increase their reach, for instance by including entertaining elements, such as games. This can help consumers acquire relevant knowledge as well as some practical experience in handling financial matters, thereby creating a deeper and more appealing learning experience.
- apply search engine optimisation to ensure that NCAs’ financial education websites appear among the first search results when consumers look for information on specific financial subjects.
Background and legal basis
The Report is based on an analysis of the Joint ESA’s thematic repository of 127 national financial education initiatives on digitalization with a focus on cybersecurity, scams and fraud, that was published on 31 January 2022. It also draws on insights from a joint ESAs high-level conference on financial education and literacy that was held on 1-2 February 2022 and a workshop with NCAs in September 2022.
The three ESAs developed the Report in line with their mandate in Article 9(1)(b) of their respective Founding Regulations, which requires the authorities “to take a leading role in promoting transparency, simplicity and fairness in the market for consumer financial products or services across the internal market, including by reviewing and coordinating financial literacy and education initiatives by the competent authorities”.