Home Retail banking Customers Consumer protection Making banking fully accessible : The undertakings of French banks  


31 december 2006

Making banking fully accessible : The undertakings of French banks

The commitments made by French banks in 2004, within the framework of the Consultative Committee for the Financial Services sector (CCSF) led to real progress in relations with their customers. In 2006, French banks went further. From the start of the year, they took further steps to ensure that everyone could open a bank account and access to the most suitable payment instruments.


French banks are offering to assist those persons seeking to exercise their banking rights by handling the necessary formalities, which have been shortened to one working day. This new set-up has been in place since the end of April 2006.

Some persons have an account but not a cheque book. For these persons, French banks offered an innovative solution in October 2005, with a range of alternative payment instruments. In 2006, they publicised these alternative means of payment, notably through a vast press campaign, and a personalised awareness campaign with customers who had been banned from writing cheques. Since April 2006, they have also mentioned these payment instruments in the letter sent out to persons listed on the "FCC" centralised cheque-writing blacklist.

In the field, FBF territorial committees hold public meetings to inform disadvantaged people and their advisors about the progress that is being made. More than 4,000 social workers and public officials have taken part.

New measures for 2007

In November 2006, the banks announced new measures, especially for their most disadvantaged customers.

- In the event that penalty fees accumulate from uncovered cheques and direct debit, French banks pledge to seek a personalised solution for customers facing financial hardship resulting from a sharp decline in their resources or after suffering an accident. A total or partial exoneration of banking fees may be granted under certain circumstances. The banks will present the entire package in late March 2007 to the Consultative Committee for the Financial Services sector (CCSF).

- French banks will also offer to group their customers' fees in a single monthly statement. Additional information will be offered to customers, upon request, depending on the structure in place at each bank.

- Lastly, French banks pledge that any costs incurred from being kept on hold on premium rate numbers will not be billed above the basic cost of the call. Technical details are still to be worked out with telephone operators.

The banking industry is thus taking a collective stand. However, a competitive environment, in which each bank prepares its own offering on the basis of its own particular set-up and the needs of its customers, is the best guarantee of efficiency, transparency and a full range of services to each customer.

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