Having a bank account is essential for a company to participate in the economy. However, because credit institutions are subject to increasingly strict requirements from Europe in the context of anti-money laundering regulations, it is not always easy for companies to open a bank account.
To address this, a basic banking service was created some time ago, giving every company the right to open a bank account. The practical application of this, however, took some time but has finally been operational since March. So from now on, the basic banking service is no longer a dead letter, but an enforceable right.
What does basic banking service entail?
The basic banking service allows a company to open a current account with a debit card. With it, the company can deposit money, withdraw money, make transfers, perform standing orders, execute direct debits and pay with a payment instrument. The number of electronic transactions the enterprise can make with basic banking service is unlimited. The bank is not required to provide cash facilities or make payments if there is not enough money in the account or if the payment would result in a negative balance.
Basic banking service is not necessarily free. The credit institution offering the basic banking service determines the price for a basic banking service.
Which enterprises can use this basic banking service?
The basic banking service is there for companies established in Belgium, registered in the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (or having applied for registration there) and which were refused as customers by 3 credit institutions.
How to call on this basic banking service.
If you are eligible for basic banking services, you can go through this form on the website of the FPS Economy submit an application. You can also obtain a paper form from the lending institution that denied service. Once the application has been submitted, the application is processed by the basic banking services office:
- The basic banking department checks that the application is admissible and complete and that all necessary documents are present.
- The basic banking service chamber shall verify whether the credit institution has adequately justified the denial of an application for payment services.
- The basic banking service chamber seeks mandatory advice from the Financial Information Processing Unit (CTIF-CFI) on the company.
- After receiving advice, the basic banking service chamber has 2 months to make a decision on the basic banking service provider.
- As a company, you will receive a registered mail with the decision of the basic banking chamber.
- If requested, your company must still provide additional information to the basic banking service chamber for its decision to designate a basic banking service provider.
- The basic banking service provider has 10 working days to provide the basic banking service.
Which banks offer basic banking service?
The credit institutions in Belgium that are systemically important credit institutions according to the National Bank of Belgium provide the basic banking service. For 2023, these are BNP Paribas Fortis, KBC Bank, Belfius Bank, ING Belgium, Argenta, AXA Bank Belgium and Crelan. The basic banking service chamber will always designate a credit institution, the company cannot choose its own.
When can a basic banking service provider refuse basic banking service?
After the approval process, the basic banking service provider may still refuse service for the following reasons:
- The company already has a basic banking service or other current account with that bank or another bank in Belgium or another member state of the European Union.
- The company's application for a basic banking service is a violation of the law of Sept. 18, 2017, on the prevention of money laundering and the financing of terrorism and limiting the use of cash.
- A member of the company's legal governing body, the person in charge of effective management or a member of the executive committee has been convicted of fraud, abuse of trust, fraudulent bank breakage or forgery.
Since March 2023, enterprises can also start enforcing the basic banking service in practice. This will allow enterprises that previously could not open a bank account to still have access to economic transactions.
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