Friday, February 14, 2003

Account number portability: Minister of Finance says more than was agreed to.....

Yesterday the parliamentary Commitee that discusses finance issues, spoke with the (demissionair) Minister of Finance, mr Hoogervorst on the topic of number portability; the possibility to use the same account number, regardless of the bank you're with. This is an issue that is already longer debated but leads to a lot of confusion. Banks state that it is too costly; different pieces of research show that the consumer is not waiting for it, nor willing to pay for such a service, but a small group of policy makers still view it as the solution for increased competition in the market.

In the debate with the Committee Hoogervorst said that Dutch banks would introduce account number portability. Both his own staff and members of the Committee were suprised. Everyone knows that the banks are now introducing a account transfer service to ease the transfer for those that move accounts. The cost are considerable lower, while the same goal is achieved. Even when urged to be more specific, the Minister repeated his answer, but with the addition that he meant that it would be introduced in the long run, being 8 years (the point in time where all Dutch bank probably plan to use a uniform 10-number system for account numbering).

The Dutch Association of Banks was asked for comment and the spokesmen denied that banks had agreed on this Account Number Portability. The banks have only the agreement to first introduce the account transfer service and then evaluate if that was sufficient. Further debate and agreements will take place in the Maatschappelijk Overleg Betaaldiensten (Payment Council that serves a the Dutch public platform for discussions on payment services).

Source: Het Financieel Dagblad