|FINANCIAL INCLUSION - Right to a bank account and ECDN launch of a European Action Day on Financial Inclusion from 2009 onwards
|ecdn Press release, 31st of October 2008
FINANCIAL CRISES: BASIC BANKING SERVICES NEED TO BE GUARANTEED EUROPEAN CONSUMER DEBT NETWORK CALLS FOR EUROPEAN ACTION DAY ON FINANCIAL INCLUSION AND FOR THE RIGHT TO A BANK ACCOUNT
While banks have been very inventive in introducing complex financial products that contributed to the current economic crises, the majority of them are still failing to provide the most basic banking services to some millions of citizens across Europe.
The European Consumer Debt Network ecdn, an alliance of about 40 debt advice organisations, consumer agencies and researchers from across Europe, therefore calls for launching a European action day on financial inclusion on 31st of October.
"In several countries the 31st of October is known as World Savings Day" explains Hans Grohs, president of the ecdn, "and children are especially encouraged at this day to use banking services. It is not acceptable that millions of them can expect to be denied a simple bank account when they are grown up and if they have a low income, debt problems, a lack of the right identification papers or because of their bank history. In many countries people from marginalized groups, such as immigrants, (ex-)prisoners, people with learning difficulties or mental health problems are also quite likely to be denied or have only limited access to banking accounts. Where basic banking products exist, a lack of information and complicated procedures are often an obstacle."
Having access to basic banking services is a precondition for being able to fully participate in the economic and social life. Exclusion from banking services usually has severe consequences, such as difficulties in finding a job, problems in finding proper housing or high extra costs for paying bills. The need to introduce adequate basic banking services has thus been stressed by social organisations such as debt and money advice centres and consumer agencies for a long time. Adequate basic accounts need to include the possibility of receiving and making electronic payments and standing orders as well as access to cash machines at a reasonable price.
Recently the European Commission has started to support these initiatives for better access to basic banking services. At a conference earlier this year Commissioner Charlie McCreevy stressed that there is a need to ensure that no one in Europe will be excluded from basic banking services in the near future and that "financial education will not be enough" to reach this goal. In order to achieve better understanding of consumers, there also need to be more transparency and information as well as the availability of simple banking products.
Governments across Europe are called to encourage and monitor the introduction and use of such products. With many governments providing massive support to bail out banks in crises at this time there is a need to also ensure the financial inclusion of the most vulnerable groups in society. Guaranteeing effective access to the right to a bank account is a timely necessity.
Additional measures to fight financial exclusion include better regulations with regards to more responsible credits and the provision of adequate social and micro credits as well as investment in sustainable financial education, in research on financial inclusion and in improving access to high quality debt and money advice services across Europe.
ecdn is an EU-level civil society organisation whose aim is to fight over-indebtedness and promote financial inclusion across Europe.
In addition to improving access to adequate basic banking services, ecdn lobbies for the expansion of high quality debt and money advice services, the improvement of legal debt settlement regulations, the strengthening of financial capabilities, responsible behaviour by and the necessary regulation for credit providers.
For more information and a list of ecdn's membership visit www.ecdn.eu or contact Michaela Moser, Tel. +43-676-544 26 46 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Created: 31/10/08. Last changed: 31/10/08.
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