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Why bank account charges are outdated

Published on:

20/02/2019

Another free account disappeared in January. This is hardly surprising. The CEOs of various banks have been lobbying for higher bank charges for years. "Giving away everything for free can't last forever", they said. This is a strange statement in times when customers perform almost all their banking services themselves. Service isn't pushing up prices. It is the traditional way of banking that has essentially become too expensive and the only people who can change that are the customers themselves.

Bank charges continue to rise

The traditional players in the banking industry argue that banking is too cheap in Belgium. That argument is now completely outdated. Belgian banking services are not too cheap: the traditional way of banking is simply too expensive. Keeping open countless branches while Belgians are doing their banking online is disparate and excessive. And the most absurd consequence is that only one party suffers in the current circumstances: the consumer.

So what about advice?

"But what about the banks' advisory role?" is usually the argument presented in defence of the bank charges. Advice is necessary for complicated matters. If you make your banking transparent, if you can give a clear answer to all the important consumer questions, you can also make the more complex banking services, such as home loans, accessible, even online.

Building trust with customers digitally and offering good services are not mutually exclusive. Digital services are also services. What is more, they are even cheaper. The presence of a counter does not automatically mean a good service. Service can be offered through all kinds of channels: by phone, by email, on Facebook and so on. What matters is that the customer's question is answered adequately.

The consumer's portfolio is most powerful weapon

The debate has been going on for quite some time. Belgian consumers' association Test-Aankoop argued this month that all banks should offer at least one free current account. The solution here is not more regularisation, but more competition. Free accounts already exist today. It is up to consumers to use their power and consciously go for the free alternatives. The consumer's portfolio is the most powerful weapon in the fight against outdated bank charges.

 

Thierry Ternier
CEO van Keytrade Bank

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