The Banco de España visits 152 bank branches to check how payment accounts are marketed
Payment account is how banking legislation refers to those accounts we use to perform typical current account services, such as transfers or setting up direct debits for bills. This is a traditional banking product which acts as a gateway to other services (cards, loans, etc.). Yet it is currently under the spotlight both because of legislative changes affecting it, following the transposition of the European directive on accounts and payments, and because of how it has adapted to increased competition in the sector, with fees and commission exemptions through loyalty programmes and changes in contractual conditions.
In 2020 complaints and claims received by the Banco de España in relation to payment accounts increased notably, accounting for 19.7% of the total, with complaints related to fees for holding accounts standing out. The number of written enquiries relating to payment accounts also increased, accounting for 19.2% of the total.
The characteristics of payment accounts require banks to provide customers with sufficient prior information and clear, simple and detailed explanations so that holders can understand how they work, the services they provide, their cost and the rights and obligations they involve.
Additionally, customers who already have an account should also receive clear and detailed information on the changes in the account’s terms and conditions over time. Since accounts don’t have a fixed or defined duration, they are bound to be adapted to both new financial environments and banks’ operating procedures.
Finally, customers facing difficulties such as seizures or freezing orders, or who simply wish to cancel their accounts should also be provided with all the necessary information.
With the aim of verifying whether the information provided to customers was appropriate, Banco de España supervisory teams have recently visited 152 bank branches of 12 different banks.
The analysis of all the information gathered will provide fundamental insights for the supervision of banks’ conduct and, where appropriate, for proposing improvements in the current regulatory framework. Focusing on this product, which is the cornerstone of the bank-customer relationship, is expected to raise customer awareness and reduce the number of complaints.