Friday, December 22, 2006

Update on further research following parliaments discusson on the draft bill Crone

This year, Dutch parliament discussed a draft legislative proposal by socialst MP Crone. The goal of this proposal was primarily to order the banks back into local communities where they closed bank branches. See my previous post. As the discussion in parliament developed, the MP's acknowledged that there was no real problem that warranted this draft law, yet given the upcoming elections they ordered a final study to seek out and solve any remaining issues. The Ministry of Finance released the preliminary results of this study last week. Also this report, produced by consumer union, retailers etc, confirms that the distance to a bank branch/service is not a real issue for consumers or merchants.

Does this mean that the proposal will be shelved? Most likely not. Two left wing parties (Socialist Party and Labour) have joined forces to keep the proposal alive by focusing on article 2 in the draft law. This draft-article prescribes that payment services must be safe, accessible and reasonably priced. And in a real nagging mood, MP's Irrgang and Crone, asked about the price asked by Postbank for its debit-card. Would the new draft bill not be useful to prevent Postbank from abolishing a free debit-card?

Interestingly the answer of the Ministry of Finance is a clearcut no, albeit formulated in diplomatic terms:
One may wonder if 'free payment services' can be considered reasonable, given the considerable costs involved in setting up and maintaining a payment infrastructure.

As in real sequels.... discussion to be continued...