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Making it easier to switch banks: A new universal service for all

Every year in France, several million individuals switch banks or open another account at another banks in order to take advantage of banking services which are better adapted to their needs or to changes in their professional or personal life, and to obtain more competitive offers.

To facilitate these switches and offer interested customers the appropriate assistance for switching accounts, the banking profession has decided to extend the existing measures in France. All banks will offer assistance in switching accounts which complies with the principles adopted by the Financial Sector Consultative Committee (CCSF) on May 26, and even goes beyond these provisions in certain cases. In particular, the banks will transfer, on customer's behalf all credit transfers, direct debit and standing orders.

As part of this service, which will be fully rolled out by the end of 2009 at the latest :

  • All banks will offer the service on request to any individual customers who have opened a current account in France.
  • The new bank will explain how the service works to the customer in question and inform them of the different steps involved using relevant documentation, which will be available on the banks' websites in particular.
  • The new bank will ask the customer in question for a formal agreement to act on his behalf. The customer will then provide the relevant information (1) .
  • The new bank will carry out the administrative formalities on behalf of the customer so that standing orders, direct debit and credit transfers appear in the new account. Once it has received the necessary information, the bank will inform all creditors and debtors of the request to switch banks within five working days .
  • The new bank will also put in place any permanent transfers that the customer wishes to issue from his new account within five working days (2).

  • If the customer so desires, he may close his former account. The former banks will close the account within 10 working days. If cheques for the old account are submitted, the bank will make every effort to warn its former customer and enable him to settle the situation before the cheque is rejected

It is already easier to switch banks in France

  • This new service is already available in some banking networks, and will improve the existing assistance available for customers who want to switch banks:
  • A free guide to switching accounts, available either in branches or on the Internet, providing clear and comprehensive information on how to switch banks.

No charges for account closures for any deposit or saving accounts.

  • A service offering a summary of all automatic and recurring operations, meaning that none are overlooked during the transfer.

Lastly, it has to be reminded that customers' relationships with their banks are already well organised :

  • The bank is bound to the customer by a mandatory account agreement, in the form of a contract describing how the account operates, the related services and the cost of banking charges.
  • The cost of banking charges are available in branches and on the Internet, as well as being sent to customers three months before the application of any changes.
  • Banking mediation (3) enables an amicable settlement to any possible disputes. This is a free service which operates on three levels: branch level, then customer relations and lastly the bank ombudsman.

Attached : the text of the undertaking

Key figures

  • Over one million copies of the guide to switching accounts have been distributed, not including downloads from the Internet.
  • 27% of French people have already switched banks (Ifop survey, June 2007).
  • 61% of French people consider that it is easy to switch banks in 2007 (Ifop 2007).

1 Information on credit transfer, direct debits and standing orders - in both directions - for transfer (bank statements, invoices, repayment schedules, details of permanent transfers and/or the addresses of issuers, etc.)

2 The time necessary for the issuers of credit transfer, direct debit and standing orders tto enter the new bank details does not depend on the bank but on the aforementioned issuers.

3 Mediation covers all issues, and in particular problems concerning the operation of the account, banking services, the execution of contracts signed with the bank, and financial products. This free system based on finding an amicable solution operates on three levels: branch level, customer relations and the bank ombudsman.


Colette Cova
email : ccova@fbf.fr
Tel : 01 48 00 50 07

Kenza Benqeddi
email : kbenqeddi@fbf.fr
Tel : 01 48 00 50 08

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