Basel III is a group of restrictions and regulations that were designed and accepted in September 2010 to help repair the banking situation for the future. While the mandates were decided in 2010, they will not be going into affect among the global banking community until 2013, at which point the measures taken in the Basel III will be applied to all of the banks that were part of the agreement.
Key Capital Ratio
One of the major changes that was instituted by the mandate is that global level banks had to change their key capital ratios. These ratios are the amount of money that the banks have to hold versus possible losses. Previously they only had to hold 2%, but as of these regulations going into effect the number has more than doubled to 4.5%. The rules also institute what's called a buffer zone, which is another 2.5% over and about the 4.5%. Banks and lending institutions that fall within the area of the buffer zone will face all kinds of restrictions on how they will be able to pay out dividends or award discretionary bonuses.
The Length of the Phasing
The process of adopting these mandates is set to start in January 2013, and it should be completed in stages by January 2019. Putting the new rules in place in this way allows banks the time to prepare for changeovers without causing any drastic changes in the day to day. Changes that happen like that can lead to problems. For instance, customer confusion and a lack of confidence are one possible occurrence. Another is the difficulty in quickly acquiring the proper ratio of funds required, considering that it's going to be doubled by the start of the mandates. When the goal is to make banks steadier and more accountable, they need to have time to make the required changes gradually.
Once 2019 has come and gone however, there will be no excuses for banks that cannot hold up to the changes. With 9 years since the decision was made, and with the conditions agreed upon by all of the banks and institutions involved, these requirements were put into play in order to help stop the economic downturns and banking bubbles that have been seen in the recent past. The goal is a safer, more responsible kind of banking that is inured to the reckless behavior of past years.