La Banque Postale considers that the broad approach adopted by the EBA goes towards improving consumer protection and information, contributing to a better fees transparency and comparability between the various payment service providers in the European Union. It thus approves this choice.
La Banque Postale considers that most of the services selected also correspond to the services linked to payment accounts most used by consumers in France, and thus achieve the objective of comparability and transparency set by the Directive. This is notably the case for the following services: Account maintenance - Debit card – Credit transfer – Direct debit and cash withdrawal.
As regards the overdraft and the credit card, La Banque Postale notes that these services are not directly linked to the operation of a payment account, due in particular to the obligation to sign a prior credit contract.
A/ As regards the methodology used by the EBA in the terms and definitions:
La Banque Postale considers that defining a service through the action of the professional is somewhat unclear for the consumer and too professional-oriented. A client-oriented approach would be preferable or, failing that, a neutral, objective approach. The technical banking mechanism matters less to the client than the outcome of the operation.
La Banque Postale thus suggests defining the services on the European list and the national list according to the method of a glossary or a dictionary, or as in the directive 2014/92/EU in Article 2, for example for definitions 19 and 20 where the direct debit and the credit transfer are payment services", or for definition 21 where the standing order is an "instruction".
In 2010, the CCSF (Comité Consultatif du Secteur Financier) drew up with professionals from the financial sector and consumer associations a very comprehensive glossary on "everyday banking and credit", comprising 210 definitions.
This glossary is part of a series of 5 glossaries aimed at financial service consumers (insurance, savings and financial products, long-term care insurance, loan insurance), which was widely distributed in paper format by consumer associations and made available online on a very large number of banking and associative sites.
These 5 glossaries (a total of close to 600 definitions) adopt a homogeneous objective method, favoring clarity, brevity and a non-legal language accessible to all, without neglecting when necessary an educational complement. For the purpose of clarity for the consumer, the 6 definitions of the French national list should retain this method of definition.
B/ As regards the wording used for the recitals and provisions of the draft RTS:
La Banque Postale has no comments to make, subject to the above comments."
As regards the terms and définitions and as a Member of CCSF:
A/ General remarks applicable to the whole document:
- Designation of the professional: l’établissement qui fournit le compte" is not a correct expression in French, it is therefore not known to the consumer;
The CSSF suggests that it be substituted for either "l’établissement" or "l’établissement qui tient le compte". See infra in the new definitions;
- For the purpose of homogeneity, the terms should be presented in the same way, directly referring to the service under review and not to the act of making it available. We would therefore have: « tenue de compte- -carte de débit – carte de crédit – virement – prélèvement » etc.
B/ CCSF proposals of terms and definitions present on the draft French national list:
1. Maintaining the account: « L’établissement gère le compte du client ».
The notion of account used by the customer (« compte utilisé par le client ») should be deleted insofar as there are inactive accounts which are no longer used by the customer and for which account maintenance fees may nevertheless be charged.
2. Providing a debit card: « L’établissement fournit une carte de paiement liée au compte du client. Le montant de chaque opération effectuée à l’aide de cette carte est débité directement et intégralement sur le compte du client. »
(The account provider provides a payment card linked to the customer’s account. The amount of each transaction made using the card is debited (“débité”) directly and in full from the customer’s account)
The term “débité” is preferable to the term « prélevé » which refers to the « direct debit » defined further down.
3. Credit card: « L’établissement fournit une carte de paiement. Le montant total correspondant aux opérations effectuées à l’aide de cette carte au cours d’une période convenue est débité intégralement ou partiellement sur le compte du client ou une ligne de crédit ouverte au client à une date convenue. Lorsque le type de carte implique la conclusion d’un contrat de crédit entre l’établissement et le client, le contrat détermine si des intérêts seront facturés au client au titre du montant emprunté. »
The institution provides a payment card. The total amount corresponding to the transactions carried out using this card during an agreed period is fully or partially debited from the customer’s account or line of credit opened for the customer at an agreed date. When the type of card involves the conclusion of a credit contract between the institution and the customer, the contract determines whether interests will be invoiced to the customer in respect of the borrowed amount
4. Sending money: “L’établissement qui tient le compte transfère, sur instruction du client, une somme d’argent du compte du client vers un autre compte”.
5. Direct debit: « Opération par laquelle un tiers (appelé bénéficiaire) fait prélever sur le compte du client, à la date ou aux dates convenues avec lui, une somme d’argent dont le montant a préalablement été défini avec le client. Lorsqu’il s’agit d’un prélèvement récurrent, le montant concerné peut varier à chaque échéance. Préalablement, le client doit avoir autorisé (mandaté) le tiers (le bénéficiaire) à faire procéder à cette opération. »
(An operation where a third party (called the recipient) debits from the client's account, on the date or dates agreed upon with him, a sum of money previously defined with the customer.
In the case of a recurrent transfer, the amount concerned may vary at each installment.
The client must previously have authorised the third party (the recipient) to carry out this operation).
6. Cash withdrawal: (unchanged): “The customer takes cash out of the customer’s account.”
CCSF proposals of terms and definitions not present on the draft French national list:
C/ although these terms are not on the French national list, the CCSF wished to make its proposals for the clarity of all:
7. “Découvert autorisé” (arranged overdraft): « L’établissement et le client conviennent à l’avance que le compte peut être débiteur pendant une durée maximale. Le contrat définit le montant maximum susceptible d’être emprunté et précise si des frais et des intérêts seront facturés au client. »
(The account provider and the customer agree in advance that the account may show a negative balance for a maximum period. The agreement determines a maximum amount that can be borrowed, and whether fees and interest will be charged to the customer.)
8. “Virement permanent” (Standing order): “L’établissement qui tient le compte effectue, sur instruction du client, des virements réguliers, d’un montant fixe, du compte du client vers un autre compte”.
The “ordre permanent" is not an expression used in France to refer to recurrent transfers. It covers, as the directive suggests in its definition 21 of Article 2, the instruction given by the customer, i.e., in the everyday French language, the setting up of the standing order. There is a confusion in the definition proposed by the EBA that would mislead the customer. Indeed, the performance by the account provider of regular transfers is referred to as “virement permanent”. These two different operations are also charged separately."
The Directive provides that the fee information document that payment service providers are required to make available to consumers must be short stand-alone document, presented and laid out in a clear and easy to read manner.
The Directive also provides that where one or more services are offered as part of a package of services linked to a payment account, the document provides detailed fee information on that package.
It also states in its recitals that the fee information document refers to “all services contained in the list of the most representative services linked to a payment account at national level”. It adds that this “fee information document should where applicable use the standardised terms and definitions established at Union level. This would also contribute to establishing a level playing field between payment service providers competing in the payment account market. The fee information document should not contain any other fees”. (Recital 19). Furthermore, it offers some flexibility to Member States by indicating that, for both the FID and the SoF: “when developing those formats, EBA should also take into account the fact that Member States may choose to provide the fee information document and the statement of fees together with information required pursuant to other Union or national legislative acts on payment accounts and related services” (Recital 20).
In view of the above, La Banque Postale would like to draw the attention of the EBA to the following points:
A/ As regards the content of the document
1 / In order to ensure the short nature of this information document, identical for all customers and to meet the readability requirement imposed by the Directive, each payment service provider should only include the most marketed packaged product in the information document and list the other packaged products –customised - in the fees brochure.
Bankers and consumers alike agree that a succinct document is useful for making real comparisons and ensuring a simple understanding. They also agree that a document of more than 2 pages does not make it possible to fulfill these two objectives of a short and clear document.
The French market for packaged services has been monitored since 2011 each year in a specific chapter of the annual report of the Observatory of Banking Fees of the CCSF (see on Annex). The following points emerge:
Payment service providers offer on average 5.5 packaged products (with a maximum of 14 for the same institution), 3.5 of which correspond to competing commercial offers and 2 of which have a uniform content and a target clientele defined by law.
In addition, 81% of banks offer one or more packages of services that are customisable or semi-customisable. Note that the degree of customisation varies greatly from one bank to another, with the base containing an average of 7.50 services, with potentially up to 18 options.
In this context, the fee information document would be substantially lengthened if it were to include each one of the customised packaged products as described above. Moreover, such an interpretation of the directive is likely to encourage payment service provider providers to stop offering customised services, which nevertheless meets some customers’ requirements and one of the concerns expressed by consumers and mentioned in the recitals of Directive 2014/92. It points out that « payment service providers may offer payment accounts packaged with products not requested by consumers which are not essential for payment accounts” (recital 24). Customising packaged products is a way of avoiding such a pitfall.
La Banque Postale therefore proposes that the ITS give payment service providers the possibility, when several distinct customised packaged products are linked to a payment account, of including only the central, most marketed product, which includes core services. The addition of the reference to the fees brochure which presents all the packaged products with the possible customisations, should be included in the FID in order to fully inform the consumer, while enabling him to compare payment service providers’ practices in terms of packaged products.
2/ As regards the particulars that must appear in the document, the date of fees application should be inserted (for example: “As for July 1st 2017”). Fees are regularly adjusted. It is therefore necessary to ensure that this FID is updated.
B/ As regards the standardised presentation rules
The objective of Directive 2014/97 as regards this fee information document, the presentation of which is standardised at European Union level, is to guarantee both full consumer information and easy and effective comparability between the services offered by the various EU payment service providers.
Such transparency and comparability requirements already apply to payment service providers in France. This is done notably by means of a fees’ brochure which providers are required to make available to consumers, online and in branches. The standardisation of the presentation of this document has led to the definition of a standard table of contents, an organisation of the different headings, information rules applicable to each type of fee (unit, package, etc.) and has imposed inserting a standard extract of fees at the beginning of the document, which presents the fees of the 11 services on the national list. The standard has not, however, defined the character size, the font used or the format of the document.
In this respect, it appears necessary that the information provided be geared to any medium (paper or electronic, where appropriate on a computer, tablet or telephone), and to the evolutions thereof. Thus, the provision of a document on an A4 format does not appear to be suited to the diversity of these media, nor is it required to guarantee the full information of the consumer. In this regard, mention may be made of the customised pre contractual information sheet, the template of which has been defined and harmonised at European Union level, in consumer credit and real estate credit, respectively by Directives 2008/48 and 2014/17. The drawing up of these two templates has not been accompanied by any prescription regarding the format of the document.
Incidentally, La Banque Postale wishes to recall the provisions of the directive 2014/17/EU, in particular the recital 20: “when developing those formats, EBA should also take into account the fact that Member States may choose to provide the fee information document and the statement of fees together with information required pursuant to other Union or national legislative acts on payment accounts and related services”. This recital suggests that the FID whose standardizes template is laid down by EBA, should be produced and provided in a format compatible with other information which must be provided together. In France, this is for example the fees’ brochure which payment service providers are required to make available for consumers, online and in branches, as mentioned above.
La Banque Postale therefore proposes that the ITS provide a sufficiently flexible format, including in terms of font, column size, spacing, etc., in order to remain readable despite the richness of certain contents and irrespective of the medium, in particular electronic, as French clients mostly use their mobile, tablet or computer to carry out their banking operations.
A/ on the consistency of the logo/symbol colours
As regards the proposed logo template and the instructions provided on its insertion, La Banque Postale draws EBA's attention on the justification of the requirement set out in Article 3 (2). Such a provision has serious consequences in terms of the publication process, without representing any gain for the consumer. The identification and readability of the information will be guaranteed even if a document is issued in which a colour company logo and a common symbol for the FID and the SoF in black and white coexist.
B/ on the ability to distinguish between the FID and SOF symbols
La Banque Postale regrets that the two common symbols – that of the FID and that of the SoF - are so similar and difficult to distinguish from one another. It suggests, for example, that the colours be reversed, one of the symbols having the yellow background and the other symbol having the blue background.
C/ on the consistency of the logo/symbol sizes
La Banque Postale approves of the desire for visual consistency between the institutions’ individual logos and the common symbol. However, as with the SOF, it considers that standardising the size of the institutions’ logos by imposing the use of the same square format as the common symbol does not meet the aims of the directive. This square format is incompatible with the rectangular logos used by many French institutions. Inserting their logos into this square will dramatically reduce their size and make them illegible to consumers, which is the opposite of the effect sought by the directive and unacceptable for the institutions.
La Banque Postale suggests allowing greater flexibility, by emphasising the idea of an overall balance, or equivalent surface area.
La Banque Postale has no comments to make on this point.
La Banque Postale has no comments to make on this point.
The Directive provides for the supply to the consumer, at least once a year, of a statement of all fees incurred and, where applicable, of the overdraft and credit interest. The statement of fees is presented and laid out in a clear and easy to read format, using characters of a readable size. It has a common symbol to distinguish this document from other documentation. The statement of fees provided on paper, at least when requested by the consumer, contains at least the information specified in the Directive. This includes the unit price charged for each service and the number of times the service was used during the period considered and, where applicable, the overdraft interest rate applied to the payment account and the total amount of interest billed in relation to the overdraft during the period considered and the credit interest rate applied to the payment account.
The directive specifies in its recitals that this statement enables a consumer to understand what fee expenditures relate to and to assess the need to either modify consumption patterns or move to another provider. It states that the same format, order of items and headings should be followed for every statement of fees in each Member State, allowing consumers to make comparisons. Furthermore, it offers some flexibility to Member States by indicating that, for both the FID and the SoF : “when developing those formats, EBA should also take into account the fact that Member States may choose to provide the fee information document and the statement of fees together with information required pursuant to other Union or national legislative acts on payment accounts and related services” (Recital 20).
In view of the above, La Banque Postale wishes to draw attention to the following points:
A/ as regards the content of the document
In order to comply with the readability requirement and the informative nature of this statement of fees, some changes should be made to the draft ITS submitted for public consultation.
1/ The difference between” services used” and “services charged “
The draft ITS (Arts 11 and 12) requires, for the summary of fees included in the packaged product subscribed by the consumer, as well as for that of each of the services linked to a payment account, that be specified the number of times that these different fees have been charged. This may prove to be completely inoperative in certain cases: for example in the case of flat-rate fees or capped fees. Incidentally, it does not comply with the Directive. Indeed, in accordance with Article 5 (1), the consumer must be informed of the number of times that the service was used during the period considered and not the number of times that the fees were invoiced. It is this specification, more relevant to the consumer, and in accordance with the text of the Directive, which must therefore be adopted.
For the consumer to be properly informed, it is important that the detail of the composition of the charged price, and in particular the discounts or retrocessions to the credit of the consumer who will benefit from a reduced or preferential tariff, be entered in the total" column of the heading "Detailed statement of fees paid on the account". Today, only the balance seems to be mentioned. Institutions should be given this possibility for consumers to be fully informed. This is already the case in the annual summaries of French fees, which consumers have received since 2009 and which they understand and appreciate. French consumer representatives do not want to relinquish this essential information for understanding and adapting their banking behavior. This information is provided either in line, or in column.
2/ Optional nature of the non-applicable headings
As regards the overdraft or credit interest, of which the details for disclosure are set out in Articles 13 and 14 of the draft ITS, provision should be made (according to the logic of Articles 11 (4) and 12 (10) of the same draft), for the possibility of deleting the heading in question, where such charges are not applicable. Such a possibility - suggested by Article 5 (1) of the Directive (“as well as, where applicable, information regarding the interest rates”) - would make it possible to simplify considerably this statement by retaining only the lines or headings that actually concern the account or the payment service provider and to save space on the document. For example, virtually all PSPs in France do not serve credit interest on payment accounts. Introducing this empty heading would confuse the consumer.
La Banque Postale also draws attention to the need to have a short document, ideally 2 pages maximum, concentrated on the tariffs actually applied to the customer (with, for some of them, reminders of the content of packages)
3/ Detailed content of the package of services
Article 11-1-a of the draft ITS provides for a detailed description of the content of the package of services subscribed by the consumer. The French PSPs consider that this is unnecessary since the consumer knows his package of services and has its details in the particular conditions and the fees brochures sent to each payment account holder at each fee update, but it also lengthens the SoF which hinders its readability.
According to French PSPs It has no reason to take place in SoF. Moreover, adding it brings great technical complexity as this information is not available in fee IT schemes.
B/ As regards the standardised presentation rules
1/ The objective of Directive 2014/97 with regard to this statement of fees, which is standardised at European Union level, is in particular to ensure that the consumer is fully informed. La Banque Postale is very attached to such annual recapitulative information, which it has promoted and which has existed in French law since 2009: in January of each year, consumers are sent a separate document recapitulating the total amount received by the payment service provider in the preceding calendar year in respect of goods or services which are provided to them as part of the management of their payment account. This summary includes, where applicable, interest paid on a debit position in the account. This summary must distinguish, for each category of products or services linked to the management of the payment or deposit account, the subtotal of the fees paid and the number of corresponding products or services.
However, the French legislator did not go so far as to standardise the presentation format, considering that a single format is useful neither for making comparisons nor for improving one’s understanding, and that it even hinders the access to information of certain populations (elderly, partially sighted, etc.).
While acknowledging the EBA’s clarification and standardisation efforts, La Banque Postale wishes to emphasise, as already mentioned in the reply to question 5, that the information provided must be geared to any medium (paper or electronic, where appropriate on a computer, tablet or telephone), and to the evolutions thereof. Thus, the provision of a document on an A4 format does not appear to be suited to the diversity of these media, nor is it necessary to guarantee full information to the consumer.
Incidentally, La Banque Postale wishes to recall the provisions of the directive 2014/17/EU, which advocate greater flexibility for the definition of the presentation format:
- Firstly, the statement of fees may not be provided on paper, since the article 5 states that “the statement of fees shall be provided on paper at least upon the request of the consumer”.
- As mentioned above, the recital 20 also precises that “when developing those formats, EBA should also take into account the fact that Member States may choose to provide the fee information document and the statement of fees together with information required pursuant to other Union or national legislative acts on payment accounts and related services”. This recital implies that the statement of fees should be designed and provided in a format, which is compatible with the format of any other document that may be provided in the same time.
2/ As regards the organisation of the proposed headings, La Banque Postale confirms that it is appropriate to start with the package of services, when it exists."
1/ on the consistency of the logo/symbol colours
As regards the proposed logo template and the instructions provided on its insertion, La Banque Postale draws EBA attention on the justification of the requirement set out in Article 3 (2). Such a provision has serious consequences in terms of the publication process, without representing any gain for the consumer. The identification and readability of the information will be guaranteed even if a document is issued in which a colour company logo and a common symbol for the FID and the SoF in black and white coexist.
2/ on the ability to distinguish between the FID and SOF symbols, La Banque Postale regrets that the two common symbols – that of the FID and that of the SoF - are so similar and difficult to distinguish from one another. It suggests, for example, that the colours be reversed, one of the symbols having the yellow background and the other symbol having the blue background.
3/ on the consistency of the logo/symbol sizes, La Banque Postale approves of the desire for visual consistency between the institutions’ individual logos and the common symbol. However, as with the SOF, it considers that standardising the size of the institutions’ logos by imposing the use of the same square format as the common symbol does not meet the aims of the directive. This square format is incompatible with the rectangular logos used by many French institutions. Inserting their logos into this square will dramatically reduce their size and make them illegible to a consumer, which is the opposite of the effect sought by the directive and unacceptable for the institutions: see example below. La Baqnue Postale suggests allowing greater flexibility, by emphasising the idea of an overall balance, or equivalent surface area.
With regard to article 14 on credit interest, it was suggested to delete point 5, which appears to be redundant with point 7 of the same article.
La Banque Postale has no comments to make on this point
La Banque Postale, a subsidiary of Le Groupe La Poste, is a French PSP present in the retail banking, insurance and asset management markets. As a civic-minded bank, it supports its customers by offering a sustainable banking relationship with an extensive range of reasonably priced and accessible products and services. As a local bank providing a public service, La Banque Postale meets the needs of all: private individuals, businesses, professionals and the local public sector. It strives to serve its customers through the network of post offices, online and by telephone as part of a fully multi-channel Relationship. La Banque Postale is Member of CCSF (Comité Consultatif du Secteur Financier