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Dublin: 0 °C Thursday 17 January, 2019

Everyone in Europe will soon have the right to a basic payments account

And it would probably be something a little bit more sophisticated than the piggy bank pictured.

Image: piggy bank via Shutterstock

EU MEMBER STATES will soon have to provide their citizens with access to a basic payments account.

A new Directive due to be signed by parliament will see the right enshrined into EU law.

The European Commissions has said that this will provide people with “a right to a basic payment account irrespective of their place of residence or financial situation”, and that the transparency of bank fees will also be boosted.

“Until now, many consumers were paying excessive fees for their bank account although better alternatives existed. Thanks to the new Directive, consumers will get clearer information about the fees they have to pay,” Commissioner for Consumer Policy Neven Mimica said, noting that people will now be able to compare the costs of different accounts.

A simple procedure will be developed to allow customers to easily switch accounts.

The basic payment account will allow customers to perform ‘essential operations’ such as the receipt wages or a pension and pay utility bills.

Customers will be able to open these accounts ‘irrespective of their financial situation’.

As much as 10% of the population of the EU do not have access to a bank account.

The Irish Banking Federation (IBF) said that ‘access to a basic bank account as one key step towards reducing levels of financial exclusion’.

“Prior to the recently approved Directive, IBF and a number of its member banks were key stakeholders in a government-led pilot project to provide a basic current account product, with a view to reducing levels of financial exclusion in Ireland,” a statement from the organisation read.

“While the Pilot indicated a low level of take up of the basic bank account on offer, IBF remains supportive of the financial inclusion agenda.”

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Nicky Ryan

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