Monday, 27 May 2013

Proposal for a new Directive on Payment Accounts

We haven't had a chance yet to mention the new proposed Directive on Payment Accounts that is a response to the last year's results of public consultation on bank accounts (How to improve banking services). The Directive deals with three issues: comparability of payment account fees, payment account switching and access to payment accounts. We have discussed these issues fully in our previous post (see the above-mentioned link) but let's shortly discuss the measures introduced in the proposal. 

The new Directive would oblige all payment service providers to provide consumers with the same (minimum) set of documents: a fee information document on the most common services provided and the fees charged for each of them; a statement of fees charged during the previous twelve months for the services provided on the payment account; a glossary of terms used in relation to payment accounts (upon request). The increase in transparency would occur due to the usage of standardised forms and terminology, which should enable consumers to better compare various offers. Additionally, the new Directive would require Member States to set up at least one independent comparison website that would give consumers information on the fees charged by different payment service providers in the given Member State.

A smoother switching process for consumers who want to move their bank accounts from one service provider to another is another goal of the proposed Directive.  Therefore, firstly, consumers should be informed of such possibilities by their payment service providers. The consumer would be able to request his service provider to transfer all or some of the recurring payment orders (credit transfers, direct debits) to a new provider, and it would be up to the provider to organize it, free of charge, within 15 days (30 days if the switch is between different MS) - limiting the administrative burden of the consumer. This could be combined with the transfer of the remaining balance on the old account and its closure.

Finally, the new rules would allow consumers in Europe to open a basic payment account in any Member State, even if they are not residents of that Member State and regardless of their personal financial situation. At least one payment service provider in a Member State should provide an opportunity to open such a basic payment account (with a possibility of withdrawals, bank transfers and a debit card) to anyone who applied for it. Credit facilities would not constitute a part of such an account. (Commission acts to make bank accounts cheaper, more transparent and accessible to all + FAQ)

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