Five years right to an account Criticism of high basic account fees
Status: 06/18/2021 4:44 p.m.
Everyone has had the right to a basic account for five years. This should help poorer people to get a checking account. It hits hard when banks turn the fee screw in times of negative interest rates. Paying salaries, shopping online, electricity bills – hardly anything works without a checking account. In the past, for example, people without a permanent address or refugees often had a difficult time opening an account. With the Implementation of an EU directive from 2014 The legal situation in Germany changed five years ago: since then, every citizen has been entitled to a so-called basic account. It is intended to give everyone an inexpensive way to conduct banking transactions with a checking account. But the fees for these financial products are increasing – to the displeasure of those affected and the critics. The prerequisite for setting up a basic account is that you are legally resident in the European Union. The account holder receives a bank card and can transfer money. A bank may only reject the application to open a basic account in rare cases, for example if a customer already uses an account with another bank in Germany.
Decision of the EU Parliament Everyone will soon have the right to an account
In 2014 it was decided that people without a place of residence would also have the right to an account in the future.
Hundreds of thousands of basic accounts already
According to the latest figures from the financial supervisory authority BaFin, just under 761,500 basic accounts had been opened in Germany by June 2020. However, many institutes are paying dearly for the “Jedermann Accounts”. According to a study by Stiftung Warentest from last December, the range extends from twelve euros to 250 euros per year.
“The success of the basic account is at stake,” warns Julian Merzbacher from the Association of Citizens’ Movement Finanzwende. “Access to an account shouldn’t be a question of the wallet, because it is essential. Other European countries, in which the fees are capped at a low level, show that there is another way.”
Deutsche Bank put in its place
If necessary, the courts have to take action. In the past year the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled in proceedings against Deutsche Bank . A monthly basic price of 8.99 euros and 1.50 euros for a paper transfer as part of a basic account are too high and therefore ineffective, judged the Karlsruhe judges (Az .: XI ZR 119/19). Since then, the bank has had to offer its basic account cheaper.
BGH judgment Deutsche Bank basic account too expensive
The basic account of the Deutsche Bank costs 8.99 euros so far – not an “appropriate” fee, the BGH has now ruled.
Fee cap required
In the opinion of Merzbacher’s colleague Michael Findeisen, Germany has only inadequately implemented the EU’s requirements. “The fee regulation urgently needs to be improved,” said the expert to the Protestant press service. The 68-year-old played a key role in shaping the relevant law, as head of division in the Federal Ministry of Finance. Five years later, Findeisen is retired and volunteers for the citizens’ movement Finanzwende.
Findisen demands a binding fee cap from politicians. “It is clear: the banks cannot earn anything with the basic account. But they can cross-finance that with the income from other financial services and products.”