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Credit Agricole

Credit Agricole, as well as French banking industry, is in favour of the broad approach used by the EBA in drafting its technical standards to set out the widest possible terminology and definitions. In effect, only this approach is likely to ensure a genuine comparability of the banking fees at the European level, by preferring generic terms rather than going into the detail of the various types of products and services that can be offered by each institution.
The selection made by the EBA was based on items communicated by each Member State. The selection criteria chosen by the EBA are based on a mathematical approach. Credit Agricole has no opinion on either of these points. We believe that the end result of applying these two principles illustrates what the banking industry has always stressed: consumer habits and practices with regard to retail banking remain very much connected to local behaviour. There are numerous barriers to developing a single market in retail financial services (see our response to the consultation on the green paper on this subject).
The method selected by the EBA to determine the standardised terms and definitions for the most common services seems appropriate to us. It uses simple definitions likely to be easily understood by consumers. Furthermore, we approve of the efforts made by the EBA to adapt the definitions to the vocabulary of each Member State.However, in defining the most common services it seems necessary to us to avoid using the very terminology chosen to designate those services. For example: defining “prélèvement” using the term “prélever” or “virement” using the term “virer”.
Taking into account the principles stated above, Credit Agricole, as well as French banking industry suggests some modifications in relation to the terms and definitions proposed by the EBA for France:
- An initial series of modifications proposed for the supply of a debit card, the bank transfer and standing order only aim to clarify the terminology and definitions proposed without modifying their meaning. We must avoid defining a service by using the same terminology as is used for designating this service (e.g. defining “prélèvement” using “prélever”, etc.).

CARTE DE DEBIT (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.
Explanatory notes: The provision of the card is not necessarily linked to the opening of the account. Furthermore, strictly speaking this is not a question of deducting the transactions paid with the card but a straightforward debit from the customer’s account.
“VIREMENT” should be changed to “VIREMENT”: L’établissement qui tient le compte transfère, sur instruction du client, une somme d’argent du compte du client vers un autre compte.
Clarification and change of [French] wording to correspond to French practice.
“ORDRE PERMANENT” should be changed to “VIREMENT PERMANENT”: L’établissement qui tient le compte effectue, sur instruction du client, des transferts réguliers, d’un montant fixe, du compte du client vers un autre compte.
Clarification and change of [French] wording to correspond to French practice.
- A second series of modifications proposed regarding the maintenance of an account, the provision of a credit card, overdrafts and direct debits are intended to correct some errors or inaccuracies which could cause confusion or misunderstanding for customers.

TENUE DE COMPTE (MAINTAINING THE ACCOUNT): L’établissement gère le compte du client.
Explanatory notes: the fees for maintaining the account do not cover the opening of the account; therefore, it is incorrect to specify account opening here.
Furthermore, the institution continues to manage the account even if the account is not used by the customer. Therefore, it is more appropriate to refer to “le compte du client.”
CARTE DE CREDIT (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 sur la 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.
Explanatory notes: At the very least, this definition must remain consistent with the definitions used in the “Interchange” Regulation 2015/751 of 29 April 2015. In accordance with this Regulation, the definition of a credit card also includes cards associated with revolving credit and deferred debit cards. However, the latter cards would not be covered by the definition selected by the EBA. We must therefore extend this definition by not specifying the conclusion of a credit contract.
“DECOUVERT” should be changed to “DECOUVERT AUTORISE”: L’établissement qui tient le compte et le client conviennent à l’avance que le compte peut être débiteur pendant une durée déterminée. Le contrat définit le montant maximum susceptible d’être utilisé et précise si des frais et des intérêts seront facturés au client.
Explanatory notes: The terminology proposed should be modified in favour of using “découvert autorisé”, which corresponds to French practice.
Furthermore, the definition currently proposed by the EBA is a source of confusion for the consumer as it could imply that the sum agreed between the institution and the customer would be credited to the account when in fact the account is debited.
PRELEVEMENT (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 le tiers (le bénéficiaire) à faire procéder à cette opération. »
Explanatory notes: As described by the EBA this definition does not tally with the reality of a direct debit. There seems to have been an error in translation which we must correct: the recipient’s account is credited with the sum debited directly from the customer’s account rather than vice versa. It seems to us that this definition needs an in-depth review.
RETRAIT D’ESPECES (CASH WITHDRAWALS): no modifications to the proposed definition (“The customer takes cash out of the customer’s account”)
Credit Agricole as well as the banking industry wishes to draw the EBA’s attention to the following points:
• Regarding the content of the document

1/ In order to ensure, as required by the Directive, that this information document - which is identical for all customers - is sufficiently succinct and readable, each institution should only mention the package used (or taken out) the most and refer to the other packages in the fee sheet.
Bankers and consumers agree that they prefer to have a succinct document enabling genuine comparisons to be made and straightforward understanding. They also agree that a document of over 2 pages does not enable the two objectives to be met of producing a succinct, clear document. The PAD Directive itself (Article 4.2(a) states expressly that the fee document must be succinct.
The French market in packages of services has been monitored each year since 2011 in a special chapter of the annual report by the CCSF’s banking fees monitoring Centre. The report has revealed the following facts: the institutions offer on average 5.5 packages (with a maximum of 14 offered by one institution), 3.5 of which are commercial, competitive products and 2 of which have uniform content and a target customer base specified by law.
In this context, the fee information document would be substantially longer if it had to include each personalised package such as those described above. In addition, this kind of reading of the Directive would be likely to encourage credit institutions to abandon the personalisation that responds to a genuine need expressed by customers, to a strong demand from consumer associations themselves and thus to a major increase in banks’ products in recent years. Furthermore, personalisation enables institutions to address one of the concerns expressed in the recitals of the PAD Directive. In effect, the Directive declares that “service providers may offer payment accounts packaged with products not requested by consumers which are not essential for payment accounts” (Recital 24). The personalisation of the package enables this pitfall to be avoided.
Therefore, Credit Agricole supports the proposal of FBF that, where several packages may be associated with one payment account, the ITS should contain the option for institutions to mention only the most taken out package. The FID must include the addition of references to the fact that the product can be personalised and a reference to the fee sheet giving all packages with their possible personalisations, in order to inform consumers fully while offering them a tool to compare institutions’ practices in terms of packages of services.
2/ Regarding the information that must feature in the document, the document issue date must be included. Fees are regularly modified. This FID must therefore be updated.
• Regarding the standardised presentation format
The aim of the PAD Directive, with regard to this fee information document, the presentation format of which is standardised at European Union level, is to guarantee both full consumer information and the easy, effective comparison of products offered by various institutions in the EU.
Numerous European directives and regulations specify standardised information documents (for consumer credit, mortgage credit, retail investment products, etc.). However, none of these directives and regulations go so far as to decree font size or colour, the font used or the document format.
With regard to fees, we must note that transparency and comparability obligations already apply to credit and payment institutions in France. These obligations are met through a fee information sheet which institutions are obliged to make available to customers both on line and in house. Standardising the presentation of this document has led to the specification of a template summary, the arrangement of the various headings, information formats adapted to each type of fee (unit fee, lump-sum fee, etc.) and has required the insertion of a standard fee extract at the beginning of the document setting out the fees of the 11 services on the national list. In contrast, the standard has not specified the formatting of the document.
In this respect, the information supplied needs to be adapted for all media (paper or digital, where applicable on computer, tablet or telephone) and for developments of these media. Thus, supplying a document in A4 format does not meet the requirements of these various media and is not required to ensure that consumers are fully informed. Furthermore, presenting the information in a table does not make it comprehensible to consumers.
Therefore, Credit Agricole supports FBF proposal that the ITS supplies a sufficiently flexible format which does not standardise fonts, font size and colour, column size or line spacing, etc. but remains readable, even given the rich nature of some of the content, in every medium, especially in paperless media, since French customers generally use their mobiles, tablets or computers to make their banking transactions. Moreover, this would meet the requirements of Recital 20 of the Directive, which specifies: “... 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.”
Only the order and content of the FID should be standardised by the EBA.
Credit Agricole has no observation to make on the design of the common symbol in itself but wishes to express some remarks on its operational implementation.
These remarks are very pragmatic and are based on the practice of institutions when issuing documents intended for customers. The remarks are intended to show how some ideas that are simple to implement when they concern a prototype created with an office tool are incompatible with a production environment which must issue millions of documents in very short time-scales while still complying with high quality and low cost criteria; these ideas also cause problems when a single issue is produced locally. They apply to the FID and the SoF.
Depending on the situation, these documents are printed by national document processing platforms which use huge rolls of paper generally made up of a background sheet, in colours complying with the company’s graphic design requirements, on which various types of document (statements, letters, transaction slips, etc.) are printed. In the industrial system described above changes in roll type are almost non-existent.
Sometimes, the documents may be printed locally in offices that more often than not use white paper in order to make the process easier for staff.
From the description of these two practical examples, we can see clearly that the rules for printing the institution’s logo and the common symbol must be flexible enough to be adapted to all situations. Thus, although a specific printing surface could be used for the common symbol, such a requirement for the institution’s logo would not add any value to the document and would run counter to operational constraints (for example, if the logo is pre-printed on the background of the page) or graphic design requirements, rendering the logo illegible (logo not squared off). Likewise, all possible colour/black and white combinations in the institution’s logo and the common symbol must be authorised in order to take into account the different situations involved in the production of the FID and the SoF.
Finally, the obligation to use the same format (a 2.5 cm x 2.5 cm box) for the symbol and the institution’s logo is too restrictive a constraint.
In effect, some of our cooperative banks’ visual identity as set out in their graphic design requirements is not suited to being placed in a box. It should be possible in these cases to comply with a single condition with regard to dimensions (height or width).
No additional observations to our previous remarks:
- Article 3: It must be permissible to use the various colour / black and white combinations in the institution’s logo and the common symbol (see answer to question 6)
- Article 7: If we want to produce a succinct document, as required by the Directive, we must be able to only list the “most popular” package.
See answers to questions 5 to 7.
Credit Agricole wishes to draw attention to the following points:
• Regarding the content of the document

In order to comply with the requirement to make the statement of fees readable and informative, some modifications need to be made to the draft ITS submitted for public consultation.
1/ The distinction between services used and services invoiced
The draft ITS (Arts. 11 and 12) requires the number of times the various package fees were charged to be stated in the table listing fees and services included in the package taken up by consumers, as well as in the table for each service where the account is a payment account. In some cases, this stipulation may be completely impossible to fulfil, for example for lump-sum fees or capped fees. Therefore, it does not comply with the Directive. In effect, in compliance with Article 5(2a), consumers must be informed of the number of times the service has been used during the period in question, not the number of times the fees have been invoiced. This information, which is more relevant to consumers and complies with the text of the Directive, should be retained.
In order to provide consumers with useful information, it is important that, in the table entitled “Detailed statement of fees paid on the account”, the detailed breakdown of the amount invoiced be added either in a column to the right of the “Total” column or on a line under each fee entry; in particular, any rebates or concessions credited to a customer with a reduced or preferential fee should be entered. At present, only the balance can be entered. The option to use this detail must be offered to institutions in order to provide full information to consumers. This is already the case in French annual fee summaries, which include and assess this information and which consumers have been receiving since 2009. The representatives of French consumers do not wish to forego this information, which is essential for understanding and adjusting their banking habits. We note that the principle of applying a rebate occurs in all commercial sectors.
2/ Optional nature of inapplicable headings
Regarding information on interest paid or earned on the account, the arrangements for which are specified in Articles 13 and 14 of the draft ITS, the option of deleting that heading must be specified (following the logic of Article 11(4) and 12(10) of the draft) when these fees are not applicable. This option - suggested in Article 5(1) of the Directive (“as well as, where applicable, information regarding the interest rates...”) - would allow the statement to be reduced in size substantially by only retaining the lines or headings that effectively concern the account or the institution. By way of example, almost none of the PSPs in France pay interest to payment accounts. The existence of this heading would worry consumers.
3/ Detailed content of package of services
Article 11.1a of the draft ITS states that PSPs must specify the content of the package of services taken up by consumers. This reminder is not worthless, since consumers know their packages of services and have the details of them in the FID and the fee sheets sent to each payment account holder when fees are renewed, but nevertheless this adds length to the SoF, damaging its readability. Consumer associations also point out the need for statements to be short, at most two pages long.
• Regarding the standardised presentation format

The aim of the PAD Directive, with regard to this statement of fees, the presentation format of which is standardised at European Union level, is to guarantee full consumer information.
Credit Agricole is committed to providing an annual summary of this information. Since 2009, French law has specified that an annual summary of banking fees debited must be provided: in January each year, each customer is sent a document summarising all the sums debited by the payment service provider during the previous calendar year for the products and services with which the customer has been supplied as part of the management of his payment account. This summary includes, where applicable, interest debited as a result of the account’s being in debit. This summary must, for each category of product or service linked to the management of the payment or deposit account, list the sub-total of the fees debited and the corresponding number of products or services provided.
Furthermore, French legislation has not gone so far as to standardise the presentation format, deeming that a sole format aids neither comparison nor understanding, and even hinders access to information for certain segments of the population (older people, the partially-sighted, etc.).
While welcoming the efforts by the EBA to clarify and standardise, Credit Agricole nevertheless wishes to recall, as mentioned already in question 5, that the information supplied needs to be adapted for all media (paper or digital, where applicable on computer, tablet or telephone) and for developments of these media. Thus, supplying a document in A4 format does not meet the requirements of these various media and is not required to ensure that consumers are fully informed. It might even be worth questioning the compatibility of this level of detail with level 1 text, since the final paragraph of Article 5 specifies that “The communication channel used to provide the statement of fees shall be agreed with the consumer. The statement of fees shall be provided on paper at least upon the request of the consumer.” Thus the legislation states that the provision of paper statements is optional and allows a great degree of freedom in terms of the communication channel. It would be regrettable if level 2 measures were to call into question the freedoms granted in the legislation.
Regarding the logo proposed and the instructions on its insertion, Credit Agricole follows the FBF comment, that reiterates its queries on the justification for the requirement in Article 3(2).
This kind of provision has serious consequences for the publication processes and fails to add any value whatever for consumers. In effect, this will affect the identification and readability of the information, including where a document issued that contains both a company logo in colour and a common symbol for the FID in black and white.
Furthermore, as stated above regarding the FID, some ideas that are simple to implement when they concern a prototype created with an office tool are incompatible with a production environment which must issue millions of documents in very short time-scales while still complying with high quality and low cost criteria; these ideas also cause problems when a single issue is produced locally.
Depending on the situation, these documents are printed by national document processing platforms which use huge rolls of paper generally made up of a background sheet, in colours complying with the company’s graphic design requirements, on which various types of document (statements, letters, transaction slips, etc.) are printed. In the industrial system described above changes in roll type are almost non-existent.
Sometimes, the documents may be printed locally in offices that more often than not use white paper in order to make the process easier for staff.
From the description of these two practical examples we can clearly see that the rules on printing the institution’s logo and the common symbol must be flexible enough to be adapted to every situation. Thus, although a specific printing surface could be used for the common symbol, such a requirement for the institution’s logo would not add any value to the document and would run counter to operational constraints (for example, if the logo is pre-printed on the background of the page) or graphic design requirements, rendering the logo illegible (logo not squared off). Likewise, all the colour/black and white combinations in the institution’s logo and the common symbol must be authorised in order to take into account the different situations involved in the production of the SoF.
Finally, the obligation to use the same format (a 2.5 cm x 2.5 cm box) for the symbol and the institution’s logo is too restrictive a constraint. In effect, some institutions’ visual identity as set out in their graphic design requirements is not suited to being placed in a box. It should be possible in these cases to comply with a single condition with regard to dimensions (height or width).
Regarding Article 14 on interest earned, we suggest that point 5 be deleted, since point 7 of the article makes it redundant.
Furthermore, Article 5(2) of the ITS specifies that the account holder’s address must be stated in a very precise place in the SoF and in a specific format. This requirement is inappropriate. Banks should retain flexibility in terms of placing this information, especially if they intend to use window envelopes, which require a very specific positioning of the address.
See answers to questions 9 to 11.
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Cooperative banking Group
Miguel LE CONTE
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