There is real need for clear, easily accessible and comparable information on fees to allow consumer to make an informed choice between the payment account offers available on the market.
>> See the most recent ESBG response to EBA consultation on bank fees
In its response to the EBA consultation under Payment Accounts Directive, ESBG chose to refrain from addressing in depth the terminology as adopted by the EBA and instead focused on the Fee Information Document (FID) and the Statement of Fees (SoF). This is due to the fact that in our view, this issue would be better dealt with at the national level owing to the many specificities present in different Member States. However, generally speaking, ESBG welcomes the efforts made by the EBA to come up with brief and easily understandable terms.
Regarding both disclosure documents as well as the proposed terminology, ESBG is of the opinion that the relevant legislation should enter into force simultaneously with the PSD II (the second Payment Services Directive) as this will be more efficient, better for consumers as well as environmentally friendly.
In ESBG’s view the consultation leaves too little flexibility to Payment Service Providers (PSPs) with regard to the format of the FID. This is because the EBA has interpreted its mandate rather extensively and has thus for instance set rules regarding the size and font of the text as well as the colour thereof, rules on the size of the logo of the PSP as well as that of the common symbol. Compliance with all of these rules would result in high costs for PSPs. Further, ESBG asks that the common symbol be made of letters, thereby enabling PSPs to print the FID on bank statement printers. Moreover, the proposed Implementing Technical Standards (ITS) oblige PSPs to indicate on the FID all packages of services on offer. Due to the existence of tailor made packages in some Member States, ESBG opposes this particular requirement as this would result in lengthy FIDs from ESBG members in those Member States. Furthermore, this would be to the detriment to consumers as well as PSPs as it would lead to misunderstandings and confusion. ESBG therefore proposes that the FID should only include a single example of a package most commonly used by its consumers. Lastly, given the fact that banking fees are partly subject to taxes in some Member States, the relevant ITS should clarify that, if applicable, the fees displayed in the FID include taxes.
In relation to the SoF, the ESBG considers the rules on its format to be too restricting. Furthermore, according to the provisions of the PAD and contrary to the proposed template, the SoF should not include an introductory statement. In addition thereto and according to the document consulted on, the EBA requires that the SoF include a list of packages. As the SoF is presented to a consumer who has already made a decision on this matter, such additions adversely affect the readability of the document, may confuse the consumer as well as run counter to the goal of providing a short and succinct document. In an effort to shorten the SoF document, ESBG suggests that items (especially those relating to interests charged or earned) as well as tables within the SoF may be deleted therefrom in cases where there is no data to be shown in relation to these items/tables. The relevant draft ITS do not afford this possibility, even though there are no legal grounds to be found in the PAD for such restrictions.
Moreover, the relevant proposed legislation would require PSPs to include key indicators in both the FID and in the SoF. According to the PAD, requiring these to be included is a discretionary right afforded to Member States and not the EBA. Lastly, ESBG regrettably observes that digital means of providing both documents to consumers have not fully been taken into account when preparing the consultation at hand.
The EBA consultation in question refers to three aspects. The first is the terminology for the most common services linked to a payment account. The remaining two relate to two separate fee disclosure documents, namely the ex-ante Fee Information Document (FID) and the ex-post Statement of Fees (SoF). The legal basis for this consultation are provisions of the Payment Accounts Directive (PAD), namely Articles 3(4), 4(6) and 5(4) thereof. The PAD was adopted in 2014, whereas the deadline for its transposition was set for 18 September 2016. In parallel to drafting the above described comments, ESBG also participated in the drafting of comments at the EBIC level.
Initiatives have been taken during the past years at national level to increase the transparency of fees linked to the operation of bank accounts. At EU level, the Payment Accounts Directive, Payment Services Directive are examples where policymakers took action as gathered evidence identified persistent problems regarding the level of information on bank fees offered and the way it was presented.