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Hungarian banks to introduce basic accounts under EU directive

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Hungarian banks will introduce non-discriminatory bank accounts with basic features available to anyone from the European Union and the European Economic Area by the deadline on October 15, lenders told Hungarian news agency MTI today.

The "payment accounts with basic features" must be introduced under a recently published government decree that transposes the European Unionʼs Payment Accounts Directive into national law. 

Under the directive, consumers are "entitled to have access to a payment account with basic features whatever their place of residence in the EU or their personal financial situation."

"In order to ensure that payment accounts with basic features are available to the widest possible range of consumers, they should be offered free of charge or for a reasonable fee," according to the directive.

The government decree outlines the services available to account holders and caps the monthly fee at 1.5% of the minimum wage, or HUF 1,575 at present.

Most lenders told MTI that they donʼt expect the accounts to attract much interest because banks already offer clients accounts with better conditions.

OTP Bank, Hungaryʼs biggest commercial lender, said it already offers its full range of clients better conditions on their accounts than those stipulated in the decree on basic accounts. Hungaryʼs banking system has been socially inclusive, ensuring even the most disadvantaged clients have access to banking services free of charge or for a reduced fee, it added. OTP noted that Hungarian Banking Association members subject to self-regulation are "practically required" to provide such services.

MKB Bank said it already offers basic accounts on the recommendation of the banking association, but these are not popular.

CIB Bank said the conditions attached to the basic account in the governmentʼs decree are already contained in all of its retail bank accounts.

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