On 22 December 2017, the law amending and inserting provisions on payment accounts and payment services in various books of the Code of Economic Law was published in the Belgian Official Gazette. Most of the articles of this law will come into force on 1 February 2018.
With 32 articles, this law aims at transposing Directive 2014/92/EU of the European Parliament and the Council of 23 July 2014 on the comparability of fees related to payment accounts, payment account switching, and access to payment accounts with basic features. This directive is commonly referred to as the Payment Account Directive (PAD) (1).
Aimed at offering consumers (i) transparency and comparability of fees related to payment accounts and services, (ii) the possibility to switch payment accounts and (iii) access to a basic payment account, the law makes amendments and additions to various books in the Code of Economic Law.
Accordingly, the consumer must have at their disposal, on a date set by the King:
- a pricing information document containing a list of at least 10 and a maximum of 20 of the most representative services related to a payment account. Additionally, when these services are offered by a payment service provider, they must have the corresponding fees for each service or to the services related to a payment account. The document must also include the standard terms and corresponding definitions of the listed services. The law also specifies the formal rules for such a pricing document and provides that it is the King’s duty to keep, modify, and complete such a pricing information document(2);
- a free-of-charge statement of all costs incurred and, if needed, information regarding the interest rates for the services related to a payment account. This statement must be provided by the payment service providers within the meaning of Article 7 of the law. It also requires a list of the minimum information that must appear on this statement;
- a free-of-charge website, developed and operated by the FSMA, which enables an independent assessment of costs. This website should at least compare the fees for the services mentioned in the information document.
In addition, the law tends to increase the obligations of payment service providers since they are required to offer basic banking services to consumers. It seems, nevertheless, that the law allows the refusal to grant such a service to a consumer when they already have another payment account in Belgium through which they can use the payment services or an account whose average cumulative annual credit balance exceeds EUR 6,000(3).
However, the credit institution must refuse the consumer’s request when there is a violation of the law of 18 September 2017 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing and on the limitation of the use of cash.
Finally, the law also aims at providing a legislative framework for consumers to facilitate the switching of payment accounts in Belgium. Indeed, the account switching service is initiated by the receiving payment service provider at the request of the consumer. Once this request has been made, the procedure will be initiated between the receiving payment service provider and the transmitting payment service provider where the latter must fulfil certain obligations within the time limits set out in Article 21.
|↑1||In Luxembourg, the same directive was the subject of a law of 13 June 2017 on payment accounts (http://legilux.public.lu/eli/etat/leg/loi/2017/06/13/a559/jo).|
|↑2||On the other hand, the payment service provider has an obligation to make a glossary available to consumers, including at least the standard terms contained in the list and their definitions (art. 6 §4).|
|↑3||Articles 14 & 15.|