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HomeEstoniaBill to do away with banks' ability to close accounts without reason

Bill to do away with banks’ ability to close accounts without reason

The Estonian Ministry of Finance has sent to a coordination round law amendments seeking to better ensure the availability of basic payment services for people, such as opening a bank account, while banks will no longer be able to close accounts for no reason.

“Nowadays, it is quite difficult to manage without a bank account, with subsidies and salary paid there, it is needed to make transfers. Banks already have an obligation to open bank accounts for people, but in practice there have been some problems with this. To this end, we will establish clearer rules in the future so that all people living in Estonia can open their own bank account,” Finance Minister Mart Vorklaev said.

Although the obligation to provide the basic payment service is also valid at the moment, the bill clearly stipulates the banks that are obliged to provide the basic payment service. These are banks, which are also obliged to provide payment services in an emergency. The corresponding list is approved by the Bank of Estonia and it currently includes SEB, Swedbank, Luminor, LHV and Coop Pank.

The availability of the basic payment service means both opening a bank account and ensuring that the contract is not canceled later without a valid reason. The latter can only be done under specific conditions. For example, the basic payment service contract concluded with the consumer can be cancelled (there are several grounds) if the consumer intentionally used the payment account for illegal purposes. According to the changes, in the future, banks will not be able to refuse to conclude a basic payment service contract or terminate a contract based solely on the suspicion of money laundering and terrorist financing.

As basic payment services, the consumer must be guaranteed money transfers, money deposits and receipts to the consumer’s payment account, cash withdrawal, and so on. This does not include services related to credit cards.

The possibility of offline card payments in an emergency will also be created. This is necessary because people mostly use bank cards for shopping and cash reserves are pretty much non-existent. At the same time, the country is in a situation where cyber attacks on Estonia have increased due to Russia’s military activities, and thus there is also a risk of disruptions in payment services.

Offline card payments can only be made up to a certain amount and only at providers of essential goods — for the sale of food, fuel and medicine.

The draft is planned to enter into force in 2025.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)

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