Thursday, May 22, 2003

More direct fees for payments...?

At a European Business Studies Conference drs. Jaap Koning, one of the directors of our central bank, stated explicitly that direct fees for payments were the best way forward to improve the efficieny of the payments system. He explained that the fact that cash appears to be free to the consumer, results in inefficient payment behaviour. But the analytical best way forward was that both banks and retailers would introduce direct fees. Mr Koning also noted that this would of course not be appealing to the consumer and labeled the topic as "politically sensitive".

His statement should be viewed as the verbal version of the recent press release of the central bank, that explains that as of 2008, they will close down the remaining three cash-distribution agencies, to leave the distribution of cash in private hands. Also, DNB has announced that as of 2005 they will charge the banks the real cost for all the cash handling. Assuming that these will be recovered, we may expect new or increasing fees from banks.

Last time a similar debate took place in the Netherlands, coordinated action by banks and Ministry of Finance (actually Wim Kok, former prime Minister and socialist) resulted in the first wave of fees for business customers of banks (1988) and some private customers (1991-1994). It's going to be interesting to see how public and parliament will react this time.