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MFSA adds pressure for banks to offer basic accounts - even to those with no fixed address

Five banks obliged by law to offer these accounts

MFSA Payment Account with Basic Features from MFSA on Vimeo.

The Malta Financial Services Authority has launched a drive to resolve the number of people complaining about difficulty opening a bank account, with five banks now offering a basic version.

Since a legal notice was issued in 2016, banks with five or more branches in Malta were obliged to offer a payment account with basic features – but sources said that banks were not exactly falling over themselves to offer one.

The MFSA is now putting subtle pressure on the five banks which fall into this category – APS, BNF, Bank of Valletta, HSBC and Lombard – by telling people that being able to open such an account is their right.

The right to this account also extends to persons with no fixed address, refugees, stateless persons and asylum seekers, among those who have complained most bitterly over the past years about problems.

“Banking services are today considered as essential and consumers depend upon access to modern payment services. The right to open a basic payment account seeks to eliminate financial exclusion being experienced at EU level,” the MFSA said in a statement, referring to the Payment Accounts Regulations, enacted through Legal Notice 411 of 2016.

“The MFSA is committed towards taking the necessary steps to ensure that the legitimate expectations of customers making use of banking services are promoted and protected,”Michelle Mizzi Buontempo, head of the Conduct Supervisory Unit, remarked.

Banks still need to carry out their due diligence procedures as applicable according to local and European legislation.

A payment account with basic features allows consumers to:
• deposit funds
• withdraw cash at the counters of the bank or at ATMs in Malta, Gozo and other EU member states
• pay by direct debits within the European Union
• effect payments with a debit card, including online payments
• receive and order credit transfers
• set-up standing orders

For further information email bpa@mfsa.com.mt or call freephone on 80074924 or +356 2548 5700 (foreign calls).

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