The Ministry of Economy has stated that clear rules regarding portability of bank accounts will become law within the coming days. This is accompanied by a maximum fee of 36 euros per year for basic bank accounts. The process will be similar to the one already used in telephony whereby a mobile number has to be transferred from one operator to another within 2 days. In Spain, this has been possible since the year 2000 and since 2012 the maximum term to execute this transfer is two days for mobile numbers.
The new regulations, based on a community directive that should have come into effect in 2016, regulate the “transfer of payment accounts”. The regulation “seeks to promote an effective and fluid long-term financial mobility, establishing a set of uniform rules that address the low mobility of customers.” It can be made between financial entities that operate in Spain.
The deadline for banks to execute a transfer of an account from one bank to another will be 13 days and the service will also be free to customers. The big difference from portability of telephony, is that the client will not have the same account number. However, all the services linked to it such as periodic transfers or direct debits will be migrated if the user so wishes. Of course, the money from the original account will be transferred, assuming that there is no debt pending. There will be no cost incurred by the customer.
The tedious process of changing bank account, especially when it has a high balance, which would require a transfer of cash or the physical transfer of money, is reduced to a minimum.
Thus, users must go to the bank to which they want to transfer their account and specify the date of execution of the transfer. From there, the receiving bank (for example, Santander) and the transmitter (for example, BBVA) must act so that the client can enjoy the current account in the entity that he has chosen in a timely manner.
Within a maximum period of two business days from the request of the client, the receiving bank -in the previous example, Santander- will request the transmitting bank to send the necessary information to carry out the transfer of the account. The client must also decide if he wants to cancel the account at the original bank (BBVA, in this case).
There will be a form available for customers in all banks and on their respective web pages that is easy to access. It will be mandatory that the process can be completed online if the customer so wishes.
The new rules governing the portability of bank accounts will not be applicable if the client decides to open one in an entity that does not operate in Spain. However, banks must keep the bureaucracy to a minimum.
Thus, if a client communicates to his bank that he wishes to open a payment account in another entity located in another country of the European Union, it must provide a list of incoming and outgoing transfer orders and receipts in the preceding 13 months free of charge.
Another issue regulated by the Ministry of Economy, included in the royal legislative decree published in November, is the bank’s obligation to close the accounts within a maximum of 24 hours if requested by the client.