I OVERVIEW

Consumer finance law generally refers to all laws and regulations governing financial products and services for consumers. In Belgium, a consumer is defined as a natural person who is acting for purposes that are outside his or her trade, business or profession. The Belgian legislator (as well as legislators worldwide) has long been of the opinion that protective and corrective legislative measures should be put in place to address a consumer’s inferior position (as opposed to businesses) with regards to knowledge, expertise and experience in the financial sector. Particularly in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007–2008, Belgian policymakers have been focusing on stronger consumer protection, together with better financial education, in order to achieve financial stability.2 Considering the significant potential detriment that financial services can cause to individual consumers and to the financial markets, improved protection for consumers in financial markets is also a key preoccupation of the European Union.3

For the past decade, the traditional consumer finance landscape has been challenged by new digital technologies. In particular, constant developments in the area of financial technology (fintech) are fundamentally changing the financial services industry.4 Fintech uses software to provide financial services and reshapes the way financial services are structured, provisioned and consumed.5 Fintech offers many advantages: it enhances customer experience (faster, better, cheaper), it introduces new ways to provide and make use of financial products and services (e.g., mobile payments, online lending platforms and automated advice), it enhances the availability and accessibility of financial products and services (24/7 via the internet, the cloud), it improves efficiency, etc. The digital evolution has also opened the door to new players in the financial sector (i.e., fintech companies) that are challenging the traditional players (particularly banks) and their monopoly in the financial sector. While some of these fintech companies may disrupt the traditional European financial market (the ‘disruptors’), there are also many fintech companies that act as ‘enablers’ and could thus be of service to the traditional players. There are more and more initiatives in the Belgian and European market involving cooperation between banks and fintech companies. This allows fintech companies to benefit from a bank’s extensive customer base and expertise with complex regulation, while banks can get an insight into new findings in the field of technology and consumer experience in order to improve their products and services. Some authors, regulators and governments (including the Belgian ones) therefore prefer to refer to ‘tech for fin’ instead of ‘fintech’. Despite the many benefits offered by fintech, the World FinTech Report of Capgemini and LinkedIn shows that Belgian consumers are still hesitant and place more trust in the traditional players.

Belgium has historically led the way in new technologies supporting the financial sector, particularly with regards to electronic banking (Bancontact, Isabel, Swift, MasterCard). However, in January 2016, the Belgian High Level Expert Group on the Future of the Belgian Financial Sector expressed the need for Belgium to foster an environment that stimulates the growth of fintech in order for Belgium to maintain its leading position.6 As such, the High Level Expert Group invited the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) to assess the desire for a light-touch regulatory regime in order to lower the barriers to entry for new players. The FSMA has also recognised the benefits of fintech and identified fintech as an important focus of its activities as of 2016. In this regard, the FSMA has opened a fintech portal on its website in order to support a dialogue between the FSMA and companies in the innovative financial technology sector.7 Moreover, since 2015, the FSMA has been chair of the Financial Innovation Standing Committee of ESMA.8

Given the many benefits and opportunities that come along with the digital revolution, the Belgian regulator is keen to promote the development of the fintech sector. However, the area of financial services remains complex and measures to ensure consumer protection and financial stability remain required. Moreover, legislation is often not yet adapted to new technologies. Hence, the regulator is challenged to ensure sufficient regulation and supervision. Digital innovations in the financial services sector also raise new concerns with regards to security (particularly in terms of fraud, identity theft and cyber crime). The Belgian regulator faces the challenge of finding a balance between a supportive approach, (i.e., encouraging financial innovation) and a protective approach (i.e., ensuring consumer protection and financial stability).9

II LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

i Legislation

Consumer finance law covers a wide range of financial products and services, including banking, payment, credit and investment products and services. In this chapter, the focus will be on consumer payments, deposits and lending activities.

Payments

The Belgian regulatory framework for payments and related services is largely harmonised at the European level. The main statutes are:

  • a Title 3 Payment Services of Book VII Payment and Credit Services of the Code of Economic Law (the Payment Services Regulations) which implements:

• Directive 2007/64/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2007 on payment services in the internal market (PSD1);

• Regulation (EC) No. 924/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 on cross-border payments in the Community and repealing Regulation (EC) No. 2560/2001;

• Regulation (EU) No. 260/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro and amending Regulation (EC) No. 924/2009 (the SEPA Regulation); and

• Regulation No. 2015/751 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions; and

  • b Act of 21 December 2009 on the status of payments institutions and electronic money institutions, access to the activity of payment service provider and the issuance of electronic money and the access to payments systems (the Payment Institutions Act) which implements:

• the Payment Services Directive; and

• Directive 2009/110/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 on the taking up, pursuit and prudential supervision of the business of electronic money institutions.

The Payment Services Regulations and the Payment Institutions Act regulate the provision of payment services. Payment services are defined as:

  • a services enabling cash to be placed on a payment account as well as all the operations required to operate a payment account;
  • b services enabling cash withdrawals from a payment account as well as all the operations required to operate a payment account;
  • c execution of payment transactions, including transfers of funds on a payment account with the user’s payment service provider or with another payment service provider:

• execution of direct debits, including one-off direct debits;

• execution of payment transactions through a payment card or a similar device; and

• execution of credit transfers, including standing orders;

  • d execution of payment transactions where the funds are covered by a credit line for a payment service user:

• execution of direct debits, including one-off direct debits;

• execution of payment transactions through a payment card or a similar device; and

• execution of credit transfers, including standing orders;

  • e issuing or acquiring payment instruments;
  • f money remittance; and
  • g execution of payment transactions where the consent of the payer to execute a payment transaction is given by means of any telecommunication, digital or IT device and the payment is made to the telecommunication, IT system or network operator, acting only as an intermediary between the payment service user and the supplier of the goods and services.

Only institutions that are duly licensed in accordance with the Payment Institutions Act are allowed to provide payment services (i.e., credit institutions, electronic money institutions and payment institutions). In addition, those regulated payment service providers must comply with the substantive provisions of the Payment Services Regulations.

Deposit-related activities

The Belgian regulatory framework for deposit-related activities consists primarily of:

  • a the Payment Services Regulations;
  • b the Payment Institutions Act; and
  • c the Act of 25 April 2014 on the status and the supervision of credit institutions and listed companies (the Banking Act).

Deposit taking (i.e., the activity that consists of receiving deposits or other repayable funds from the public) is a regulated activity that is reserved for duly authorised credit institutions only. Credit institutions are required to join a collective deposit guarantee scheme.

Consumer lending activities

The Belgian regulatory framework for consumer lending activities consists primarily of Title 4 Credit Agreements of Book VII Payment and Credit Services of the Code of Economic Law (the Credit Regulations).

The Credit Regulations have a broad scope of application and regulate any agreement whereby a creditor grants or promises to grant to a consumer credit in the form of a deferred payment, loan or other similar financial accommodation.

The legislator has always been of the opinion that mortgage credit should be regulated separately due to its specificities. Hence, the rules are twofold:

  • a consumer credit is regulated by Chapter I of the Credit Regulations (the Consumer Credit Regulations). Consumer credit is defined as credit, regardless of the name or form, that is being granted to the consumer, except mortgage credit;
  • b mortgage credit is regulated by Chapter II of the Credit Regulations (the Mortgage Credit Regulations). Mortgage credit is defined as:

• ‘mortgage credit with a moveable purpose’ (i.e., a credit agreement secured by a mortgage security that is not intended for financing the acquisition or the preservation of immoveable property rights or the refinancing of such credit agreements); and

• ‘mortgage credit with an immoveable purpose’ (i.e., a credit agreement secured by a mortgage security that is intended for the financing of the acquisition or preservation of immoveable property rights or the refinancing of such credit agreements). A credit agreement that is not secured by a mortgage security but is intended for the financing of the acquisition or preservation of immoveable property rights, with the exception of the renovation of immoveable property, or a credit agreement with regard to barges also qualifies as mortgage credit with an immoveable purpose.

ii Regulation

In Belgium, the supervision of the financial sector is entrusted to three different authorities, each of which has a specific set of objectives and competences: the National Bank of Belgium (NBB), the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) and the Federal Public Services Economy, SMEs, Self-Employed and Energy (FPS Economy).

The National Bank of Belgium and the Financial Services and Markets Authority

The NBB is established under the Act of 22 February 1998 establishing the organic statue of the National Bank of Belgium (the NBB Establishment Act). The NBB’s mission is, among others, to ensure the prudential supervision of the financial sector. As such, the NBB is responsible for the individual prudential supervision of credit institutions (as referred to in the Banking Act) and payment institutions (as referred to in the Payment Institutions Act).

The FSMA is established under the Act of 2 August 2002 on the supervision of the financial sector and on financial services (the Financial Supervisory Act). The FSMA is responsible for: (1) overseeing financial markets and supervising company information; (2) supervising financial products; (3) supervising compliance by financial institutions with the rules of conduct; (4) supervising a wide range of financial service providers and intermediaries; (5) contributing to the financial education of savers and investors; and (6) supervising supplementary pensions.10 As such, the FSMA is responsible for the supervision of mortgage and consumer credit providers and intermediaries in mortgage and consumer credit (as referred to in the Credit Regulations).

The NBB and the FSMA have wide powers and competences for the purposes of carrying out their supervisory tasks:11

  • a The NBB and the FSMA can issue regulatory instruments, such as circulars and communications, to explain and interpret legislation. With these regulatory instruments the NBB and the FSMA indicate how they will apply the rules.
  • b The NBB and the FSMA can impose a variety of preventive and corrective measures.
  • c The NBB and the FSMA can ask undertakings under their supervision to provide relevant documentation and information, and can conduct on-site inspections in order to verify compliance with all the rules (including by the use of mystery shoppers).
  • d Where a financial service provider (e.g., payment institution or creditor) offers services without the required registration or authorisation, the NBB and the FSMA can publish a warning to advise the public.
  • e If the NBB and the FSMA determine that a financial service provider no longer fulfils the conditions for registration or authorisation they may take administrative measures. The most severe measure is revoking the authorisation (whereby the undertaking may no longer carry out its activities).
  • f The NBB and the FSMA can also impose administrative sanctions (such as fines and other penalties) for infringements of financial legislation.
FPS Economy

Whereas the NBB and the FSMA supervise providers of financial services (such as payment institutions and creditors) in terms of licensing, operating and conduct of business requirements, the FPS Economy is entrusted with the supervision of such providers’ compliance with the substantive rules governing financial products and services, including the Payment Services Regulations and Credit Regulations. As part of these supervisory powers, for example, creditors have to submit their model mortgage and consumer credit agreements to the FPS Economy for prior approval.

The FPS Economy’s main mission is to detect and identify breaches of the financial rules and regulations. In this regard, the FPS economy is allowed to use mystery shoppers. In case of an infringement, the FPS Economy can take various measures, such as issuance of a warning, reaching an administrative settlement and seizing the goods of an infringer. The FPS Economy can refer its findings to the NBB and the FSMA, which will subsequently impose appropriate administrative sanctions.

III PAYMENTS

i Overview

Payments are regulated by the Payment Services Regulations and the Payment Institutions Act. As set out above, the payment services rules are mainly derived from EU legislation.

The regulations are twofold:

  • a licensing regime: only duly licensed institutions are allowed to provide payment services (i.e., credit institutions, electronic money institutions and payment institutions); and
  • b substantive provisions: payment services providers need to comply with the substantive provisions of the Payment Services Regulations, including information and disclosure requirements, costs, authorisation of payment transactions and execution of payment transactions (execution time, liability).

With the emergence of new technologies, payment solutions are transforming every day. The internet and mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) have become key elements in consumers’ day-to-day lives. The traditional payment methods, such as cash payments and bank wire transfers are increasingly being surpassed by new digital payment methods, such as online and mobile payments.12 The Digital Payments Study 2016 conducted by Visa shows that Belgium ranks in the top 10 countries with the highest proportion of mobile payments users.13 Today in Belgium there are more than 11 million users of online banking and more than 3 million users of mobile banking.14 Nevertheless, although Belgium is transforming to a less cash-reliant society, many payments in Belgium are still made using cash.15

The current regulatory framework for payment services is being challenged by the rapid growth in digital technologies and the introduction of new types of payment services in the market.16 In particular, the EU considered that:

Many innovative payment products or services do not fall, entirely or in large part, within the scope of the regulations. Moreover, the scope of application of the regulations has proven to be too ambiguous, too general or simply outdated, taking into account market developments. This has resulted in legal uncertainty, potential security risks in the payment chain and a lack of consumer protection in certain areas. It has proven difficult for payment service providers to launch innovative, safe and easy-to-use digital payment services and to provide consumers and retailers with effective, convenient and secure payment methods.17

ii Recent developments

In order to respond to the developments in the payments landscape, particularly rapid technological changes, the European Parliament and the Council adopted the recast Payment Services Directive (PSD2),18 which will replace the current Payment Services Directive. Two of the key changes introduced by the PSD2 are enhanced security requirements and an expanded scope. In particular, the PSD2 introduces two new regulated payment services (i.e., payment initiation services and account information services):

  • a ‘payment initiation service’ means a service to initiate a payment order at the request of the payment service user with respect to a payment account held at another payment service provider; and
  • b ‘account information service’ means an online service to provide consolidated information on one or more payment accounts held by the payment service user with either another payment service provider or with more than one payment service provider.

The PSD2 entered into force on 12 January 2016. Member States must implement PSD2 into national law by 13 January 2018.

IV DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS AND OVERDRAFTS

i Overview

As set out above, any activity that consists of receiving deposits or other repayable funds from the public is a regulated activity that is reserved for duly authorised credit institutions only. Hereinafter the focus will be on access to banking services, deposit guarantees and overdrafts.

Access to banking services

In modern society, having a bank account is indispensable for consumers’ day-to-day lives. A bank account enables consumers to make and receive payments, purchase goods or services online, pay bills, obtain credit, etc.19 Hence, when people are excluded from having a bank account, they are isolated from society.

In 1996 the banks in Belgium already adopted the ‘Charter regarding a basic banking service’. With this Charter the banks (voluntarily) agreed that any person who is domiciled in Belgium could open an account and engaged themselves to offer the ‘basic banking service’. This basic banking service included the execution of transfers, enabling cash deposits and withdrawals, and issuing bank statements.20

In 2001, the Belgian legislator considered that the right to financial services, in particular the access to financial banking services, is a fundamental right21 and that it should be guaranteed by law. Consequently, on 4 March 2003 the Act on the implementation of a universal banking service was adopted, which ensured the offering of basic banking services free of charge. Today the rules on the basic banking services can be found in Chapter 8 Basic Banking Service of the Payment Services Regulations (which also takes into account European developments in this area).

In accordance with Article VII.57 of the Code of Economic Law, every credit institution is required by law to offer the basic banking service and every consumer is entitled to the basic banking service. The ‘basic banking service’ is defined as ‘a payment service which includes the following services’:

  • a services enabling all the operations required for the operating of a payment account;
  • b services enabling money to be placed on a payment account;
  • c services enabling cash withdrawals from a payment account; and
  • d the execution of payment transactions, including transfers of funds in and out of a payment account with the consumer’s payment service provider or with another service provider following:

• the execution of direct debit;

• the execution of payment transactions through a payment instrument; and

• the execution of money transfers, including standing payment orders.

The annual fee charged for the basic banking service may not exceed €12.

A credit institution may reject an application for a basic banking service or revoke a basic banking service only where:

  • a the consumer already has access to a basic banking service or a payment account (even with another credit institution);
  • b the consumer already has an account or accounts for a total amount exceeding €6,000; or
  • c the consumer has committed fraud, misuse of trust, fraudulent bankruptcy, forgery or money laundering.

When a credit institution rejects or revokes an application for a basic banking service the credit institution will have to inform the consumer of the complaints and out-of-court redress procedures that the consumer can rely on, and the information details of ‘Ombudsfin’ (which is the competent body to deal with such complaints procedures). The credit institution will also have to inform Ombudsfin immediately of its decision to reject or revoke. Ombudsfin can annul the decision taken by the credit institution or order another credit institution to provide the basic banking service.

Deposit guarantees

Deposit guarantee schemes have attracted much attention in the aftermath of the financial crisis. In Belgium, the deposit guarantee scheme has been established within the Deposit and Consignation Office of the Federal Public Services Finances: the Guarantee Fund for financial services. The Banking Act requires all Belgian credit institutions to participate in the Guarantee Fund. The Guarantee Fund ensures the protection of funds held by depositors, savers and investors in case of default of the institution. In particular, the Guarantee Fund provides for a guarantee of €100,000 per depositor per institution.

Overdrafts

An overdraft offers a consumer the possibility to draw down funds which exceed the current balance in the consumer’s current account. If the overdraft has been explicitly agreed, it is called an ‘overdraft facility’. If the overdraft has been tacitly accepted (without an explicit agreement) it is called ‘overrunning’. Overdrafts generally fall within the scope of application of the Credit Regulations,22 albeit under a light-touch regime.

In case of overrunning, the law requires a creditor to notify the consumer when the overrunning exceeds €1,250 and lasts more than a month. If the overrunning has not been repaid within three months, the creditor is obliged to suspend any drawdowns under the credit facility and put an end to the credit agreement, or conclude a new credit agreement providing for a higher total amount of credit.

ii Recent developments

Directive 2014/49/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on deposit guarantee schemes has been implemented into Belgian law by means of the Act of 22 April 2016 transposing Directive 2014/49/EU on deposit guarantee schemes and containing various provisions. In particular, this Act has amended the Banking Act as well as the Royal Decree of 14 November 2008 on the implementation of the crisis measures provided for by the Act of 22 February 1998 on the organic status of the National Bank of Belgium, with regards to the establishment of the Guarantee Fund for financial services.

V REVOLVING CREDIT

i Overview

Belgian law does not define ‘revolving credit’ as such. However, revolving credit is a specific type of ‘credit facility’, which is defined by Article I.9, 48 of the Code of Economic Law as any credit agreement, regardless of the name or form, whereby a creditor makes available to a consumer purchasing power, money or any other means of payment and the consumer can use the credit by one or more drawdowns, among others, by means of a payment instrument or any other means, and the consumer commits himself to repaying the credit as agreed. In case of revolving credit, the consumer can redraw again any amounts repaid. Where the possibility to redraw the credit is subject to the prior consent of the creditor or conditions other than those initially agreed, the redrawing will be considered to constitute a new credit agreement.

Revolving credit, as a type of credit, falls within the scope of application of the Credit Regulations (both consumer credit and mortgage credit). As such only duly licensed creditors can grant such credit and only duly licensed credit intermediaries can intermediate such credits. Moreover, the credit agreement will need to comply with the substantive provisions of the Credit Regulations, including rules on advertising, pre-contractual information and advice requirement, creditworthiness assessment, mandatory contractual provisions, interest rates and costs, etc.

The Credit Regulations require the implementation of a ‘zero setting’ for both revolving consumer credit and revolving mortgage credit agreements of indefinite duration or with a term of more than five years. In particular, such credit agreements will have to provide for a term by which the total amount of the credit facility must be repaid.23 The zero setting term will restart upon the first drawdown following the last zero setting.

With regards to revolving consumer credit and revolving mortgage credit with a moveable purpose the creditor is required to regularly inform the consumer by means of a statement of account, on a durable medium, containing the following information:

  • a the precise period to which the statement of account relates;
  • b the amounts and dates of drawdowns;
  • c the total amount outstanding, and the date of the previous statement;
  • d the new total amount outstanding;
  • e the dates and amounts of payments made by the consumer;
  • f the applicable borrowing rate(s);
  • g the separate amounts of any charges;
  • h where applicable, the minimum amount to be paid and the interest due;
  • i where applicable, the outstanding balance due from the previous statement (except with regards to overdraft facilities);
  • j where applicable, the different dates of the charges due (except with regards to overdraft facilities); and
  • k the date and the amount of interest due for each borrowing rate, and information on the calculation method of the interest due on the amount outstanding (except with regards to overdraft facilities).

Often the revolving credit will be linked to a payment instrument, such as a credit card. The issuance of payment instruments is a regulated activity. As such, the creditor will also fall within the scope of application of the payment services rules and regulations.

ii Recent developments

The Central Individual Credit Register of the National Bank of Belgium records information relating to all consumer credits and mortgage loans, as well as any payment defaults resulting from these loans. The purpose of this registration is to strengthen the means of preventing the excessive indebtedness of private individuals.24 Creditors are required by law to consult the Central Individual Credit Register prior to the conclusion of a credit agreement with a consumer. The National Bank of Belgium publishes statistics regarding the information recorded in the Central Individual Credit Register on a monthly basis. The statistics for 2016 show that credit facilities represent more than 50 per cent of all credit agreements. In particular, in 2016 there were 6,241,985 credit facilities for a total amount of €17,046,306.25

VI INSTALMENT CREDIT

i Overview

Instalment credit is defined as any credit agreement, regardless of the name or form, whereby a creditor makes available to a consumer money or any other payment means and the consumer has to repay the credit in periodic payments. A typical example is a car financing agreement whereby the consumer obtains a credit that allows the consumer to purchase a car and stretch out the repayment over a longer period of time by instalments. Another example of an instalment credit is a student loan that allows students to pay their tuition fees in instalments. However, student loans are less common in Belgium because of the low tuition fees. Mortgage credits will generally have to be repaid by instalments and thus qualify as instalment credit. For example: traditional home loans (i.e., a credit intended for purchasing a house whereby the credit has to be repaid by monthly payments over a period of 30 years).

Instalment credit has been subject to regulation in Belgium for a long time. Mortgage credits were already regulated by the Royal Decree No. 225 of 7 January 1936 on the regulation of mortgage loans and ensuring supervision of undertakings granting mortgage loans. Instalment loans for consumers (except for mortgage loans) were already regulated by the Act of 9 July 1957 on the instalment sale and instalment loan. Today, instalment credit, as a specific type of credit, is subject to the general rules on mortgage and consumer credit which can be found in Title 4 Credit Agreements of Book VII of the Code of Economic Law.

The rules are twofold. On the one hand, persons granting (or intermediating in the granting of) instalment credits are subject to specific licensing and registration requirements. On the other hand, the Credit Regulations contain specific substantive provisions with regards to instalment credit agreements, including requirements on advertising, pre-contractual information and advising, credit-worthiness assessment, contractual rights and mandatory provisions, securities, etc.

ii Recent developments

The Directive 2014/17/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 February 2014 on credit agreements for consumers relating to residential immoveable property has been implemented into Belgian law by the Act of 22 April 2016 amending and introducing provisions concerning consumer credit and mortgage credit in various books of the Code of Economic Law, which has entered into force on 1 December 2016.

VII UNFAIR PRACTICES

In Belgium, the provisions protecting consumers against unfair practices in the financial sector can be found in various laws and regulations.

First there is Book VI Market practices and consumer protection of the Code of Economic Law (Book VI), which implements Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights. Book VI can be considered to constitute the lex generalis in relation to specific consumer finance laws and regulations. Book VI has provisions on advertising, (pre-contractual) information requirements, misleading and aggressive commercial practices and unfair contractual terms.

Book VI is supplemented by sector-specific legislation. Particularly the Credit Regulations contain extensive provisions on advertising, (pre-contractual) information requirements, unfair contractual terms, prohibited practices (e.g., tying practices), etc. The Credit Regulations are mainly derived from EU legislation.

Since 2014 Belgian law provides for the possibility to file a class action for breaches of the Payment Services Regulations and the Credit Regulations.

VIII RECENT CASES

i Enforcement actions

There is no publicly available information about any recent enforcement actions by the FSMA or the NBB against institutions for breach of consumer finance laws and regulations.26

ii Disputes before the regulator

There is no publicly available information about any significant recent complaints brought by or on behalf of consumers before the regulator or Ombudsfin. Ombudsfin’s annual report for 201527 shows that most of the complaints, that Ombudsfin receives, relate to payment accounts, payment cards, and the conclusion and execution of credit agreements (both consumer and mortgage credit).

iii Litigation

There is no publicly available information about any significant recent court cases concerning consumer finance.

IX OUTLOOK

Considering the massive digitization of the local and international financial markets, with new technology solutions being invented each day, it is clear that fintech will continue to reshape the consumer finance landscape, whether as ‘enabler’ or ‘disruptor’.


1 Pierre E Berger is a partner and Pauline Kustermans is an associate at Baker McKenzie.

2 Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Consumer Protection Aspects of Financial Services, European Union, 2014, 18, www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2014/507463/IPOL-IMCO_ET(2014)507463_EN.pdf.

3 Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Consumer Protection Aspects of Financial Services, European Union, 2014, 14-15, www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2014/507463/IPOL-IMCO_ET(2014)507463_EN.pdf.

4 EPRS, Consumer Protection the EU, European Union, 2015, 9, www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2015/565904/EPRS_IDA(2015)565904_EN.pdf.

5 World Economic Forum, The Future of Financial Services, 2015, www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_The_future__of_financial_services.pdf.

6 Report of the High Level Expert Group, The Future of the Belgian Financial Sector, Brussels, 13 January 2016, 53.

7 www.fsma.be/en/Supervision/finbem/fintech.aspx.

8 European Securities and Markets Authority.

9 www.euractiv.com/section/digital/news/commission-champions-laissez-faire-in-first-response-to-fintech-revolution/.

10 FSMA introductory brochure, www.fsma.be/en/About%20FSMA.aspx, 8-19.

11 FSMA introductory brochure, www.fsma.be/en/About%20FSMA.aspx, 20.

12 www.ecb.europa.eu/paym/retpaym/undpaym/html/index.en.html.

13 www.visaeurope.com/media/pdf/40172.pdf.

14 http://dashboard.febelfin.be/nl dd. 16 January 2017.

15 www.febelfin.be/nl/belgie-elektronisch-vs-cash-betalen; http://dashboard.febelfin.be/nl.

16 Directive (EU) 2015/2366 on payment services in the internal market, Recital 3.

17 Directive (EU) 2015/2366 on payment services in the internal market, Recital 4.

18 Directive (EU) 2015/2366 of 25 November 2015 on payment services in the internal market, amending Directives 2002/65/EC, 2009/110/EC and 2013/36/EU and Regulation (EU) No. 1093/2010, and repealing Directive 2007/64/EC.

19 Directorate General for Internal Policies, Basic banking service, Brussels, European Union, 2011, 8 (www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/studies).

20 Memorie van Toelichting, Parl. St. Kamer, Doc 50 1370/001, 4.

21 Memorie van Toelichting, Parl. St. Kamer, Doc 50 1370/001, 4.

22 Credit agreements (1) where the credit is granted free of interest, (2) under the terms of which the credit has to be repaid within two months and (3) where the charges do not exceed €4.17 per month are excluded from the scope of application of the Credit Regulations.

23 Article 14, Section 3 of the Royal Decree of 16 September 2016 on the costs, percentages, duration and repayment methods of credit agreements subject to Book VII of the Code of Economic Law sets the maximum terms for zero setting.

24 www.nbb.be/en/central-credit-register/credits-individuals/mission.

25 Centrale voor kredieten aan particulieren, Statistieken, Brussel, 2016, 8.

26 All intermediaries in mortgage and consumer credit must be registered with the FSMA. The register is published by the FSMA on its website and lists all registered intermediaries
(www.fsma.be/nl/Supervision/finbem/vt/cons.aspx). It appears from the register for intermediaries in consumer credit that the FSMA has withdrawn the registration of one undertaking in 2016, however there is no further information available.

27 www.ombudsfin.be/sites/default/files/jaar-verslag-2015.pdf.