BRUSSELS, 7 August 2017 – ESBG sent during June and July two letters to the European Commission on standards needed to enforce and follow the payment accounts directive (PAD).
Implementing Technical Standards letter
The first letter focused on the final draft of Implementing Technical Standards (ITS) relating to fee disclosure documents for consumer payment accounts – the Fee Information Document (FID) and the Statement of Fees (SoF) as adopted by the European Banking Authority (EBA).
Aimed at officials within DG FISMA, the ESBG letter argues that the text adopted at EBA level is not only detrimental to savings and retail banks, but also to consumers throughout the EU. ESBG sees that, at times, the EBA had overstepped its mandate by taking away some of the discretion afforded to Member States by the Payment Accounts Directive (PAD).
ESBG's initial concerns around FID focus on the rather long documents that stem from the directive placing an obligation by banks to list all offered packages has seemingly been partially addressed by the possibility to produce several FIDs in some cases. This would only add to the existing confusion presented by long FIDs in many other cases and would not improve comparability.
A similar argument pertains the SoF, where there exists no need to remind a consumer which packages he/she opted for as the ITS demands as the SoF is designed to provide information on fees paid. ESBG was additionally surprised to discover that its comments of rearranging detailed information on fees paid for the sake of clarity – next to a corresponding fee as opposed to under “Additional Information" – was not accepted.
Concerns also arose when some inconsistencies were spotted by the association in the final draft of the ITS. One of those relates to the fees paid for the service “Overdrafts". As fees for this service may be interest paid, there exists confusion where these should be stated under fees or interest paid.
Regulatory Technical Standards letter
The second letter directed concerns towards the Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) relating to the Union standardised terminology for services linked to a payment account. ESBG sees that as currently written, Annex 1 to the RTS – outlining the standardised terminology – is not optimal as certain terms and definitions contained therein may not be understood by consumers or contradict existing legal definitions.
Many of the comments made in the consultation process were taken on board. The document was published, however, without any explanations on the acceptance or rejection of many of the specific comments made by stakeholders during the consultation process. This is further worsened as some mistakes persist. For instance, one of the definitions in French is written in a syntax which is obviously incorrect. Terms “providing a debit card" and “providing a credit card" are misleading as, at first glance, it is unclear whether or not the terms in question encompass also the maintenance, or alternatively, whether or not they should only be attributed to the first provision of a card. From a linguistic point of view, both interpretations are possible.
ESBG also flagged in the letter that the EBA has limited the definition of “standing order" contained in the Payment Accounts Directive (PAD) so that it is now proposed to relate only to “a fixed amount of money". A gap is thereby created, comprising of regular transfers with an identifiable but not fixed amount of money. Payment services providers will inevitably face the question whether these “gap services" can or must be labelled with the standardised terminology. Both possible options are in conflict with the goal of the PAD to enhance transparency.