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Frankfurt – Anyone who has received mail from his bank in January should not simply let it go to the wastebasket. According to some experts, the changes made by the EU PSD2 directive are as far-reaching as the first credit cards in the late 1950s or digital transfers from the turn of the millennium. Brussels wants to change the payment system fundamentally.


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More competition and new offers

The European “Payment Service Directive” breaks the monopoly of banks when accessing account data. In the future, financial institutions will also have to allow third-party providers, such as financial start-ups, access to their customers’ accounts and data.

For many fintech companies this offers new possibilities: There are companies that compare interest rates of different banks for overnight money and provide money transfer there. Others help consumers save by automatically deducting small amounts of money. Further developments are also possible for digital asset managers. Additional offers, such as intelligent fund savings plans or a better balance sheet, were easier to implement. For bank customers, this means that with offers from fintechs, they could see several accounts at a glance and transfer money via third-party companies instead of via a bank.

For the banks, the sole access to the account data was lucrative: who knows how much money private customers have and what they spend it, can easily offer them more services – mortgage lending, loans, insurance or securities. It was “incomprehensible” that third-party services would have legally defined access to the infrastructure of the banks, which in turn did not apply, complained the Federal Association of German Banks. Even Thomas Sontheimer of the consulting company Accenture sees the financial institutions in the long term in distress. “The directive will increase transparency in European payments and presumably increase price pressure.”

Consumer-friendly innovations

1. Controlled access to account data

Consumers do not have to fear that companies access their data unchecked. You must explicitly allow them to share. Access is via the house bank and only for the requested purpose. The EU has banned the machine-based read-out of current accounts, which provides information on all payments and customs of bank customers. “Customers can rely on data security,” emphasizes the banking association.

2. New liability limit for online banking

But even for those who do not want services from third-party companies, there are far-reaching changes – for the benefit of consumers. So they had previously been liable for misuse of bank or credit card or numbers in online banking for damages up to 150 euros, as long as they had not blocked card or Internet account. According to the banking association, this liability limit will drop to 50 euros in the future. Only in case of gross negligence or intent do customers continue to be fully liable.

3. Bookings and reservations with credit card safer

Even when reserving rental cars or hotels, the rules become more consumer friendly. If many companies automatically block a certain amount on the customer’s credit card for security, they now have to agree.

4. More protection with online payments

In addition, stricter rules should protect against online payments fraud. With “PSD2” it is no longer enough for customers to enter card data and account number or username and password for payment services. A second, different feature such as a fingerprint or an SMS to your own smartphone should increase security. “For German bank customers that is the central benefit,” says consultant Sontheimer. The fees, such as for transfers, however, should hardly fall. “Germany is already cheap in European comparison.”

The trade, however, sees skeptical stricter security rules. “Such hurdles make payments on the Internet anything but convenient and can in the worst case lead to customers canceling their purchases,” says Ulrich Binnebößel from the HDE trade association. In addition, the consumer protection is questionable, since with rules such as buyer protection damage online shopping anyway rather arise on the dealer side. However, consumers with new offers would have an alternative to credit card or direct debit. “The customer then has the choice.”