I OVERVIEW

Consumer finance law generally refers to all laws and regulations governing the retail financial services industry. They cover a broad range of financial products and services for consumers, such as payments, savings, credit, investments and insurance.

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 regard 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 technology to provide products and services in the financial sector and reshapes the way these products and 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 fintech 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 disrupt the traditional European financial market (the disruptors), there are also many fintech companies that act as enablers and can thus be of service to the traditional financial players. There are more and more initiatives in the Belgian and European market involving cooperation between the traditional financial players and fintech companies. This allows fintech companies to benefit from the traditional players' extensive customer base and expertise with complex regulation, while the traditional players 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'.

While the traditional financial players and the fintech companies have shifted their focus to cooperation instead of competition, a bigger threat for the banks may be posed by the tech giants such as the GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple). Historically these companies have stayed away from offering (regulated) financial services. However, over the past few years, they have surely entered the financial services sector. For example, Amazon offers various services enabling payments, lending and cash deposits and only recently, in 2018, Apple launched Apple Pay in Belgium. The solutions offered by these big technology companies are also referred to as 'techfin'.

Belgium has historically led the way in new technologies supporting the financial sector, particularly with regard 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 regulators7 to assess the desire for a light-touch regulatory regime in order to lower the barriers to entry for new players. The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) and the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) have also recognised the benefits of fintech and identified it as an important focus of their supervisory activities. In this regard, the FSMA and the NBB have opened a fintech portal on their websites in order to support a direct dialogue between the regulators and companies in the innovative financial technology sector (whether start-ups or established firms).8 Moreover, since 2015, the FSMA has been chair of the Financial Innovation Standing Committee of ESMA.9 One of the other recommendations of the High Level Expert Group resulted in B-Hive, the successor of Eggsplore (founded by Jürgen Ingels and with Wim De Waele as CEO). B-Hive, supported by the Belgian government, is a European collaborative innovation fintech platform that brings together major banks, insurers and market infrastructure players. B-Hive aims to put Brussels on the map as the smart gateway to Europe and leverages on the opportunities offered by the digital transformation for the financial services industry.10

Given the many benefits and opportunities that come with the digital transformation, the Belgian regulator is keen to promote the development of the fintech sector. However, the area of financial services (including consumer finance) remains complex and measures to ensure consumer protection and financial stability are still 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 regard to security (particularly in terms of fraud, identity theft and cybercrime). The Belgian regulator faces the challenge of finding a balance between a supportive approach, (i.e., encouraging digital innovation in the financial industry) and a protective approach (i.e., ensuring consumer protection and financial stability).11

II LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

i Legislation

The regulatory framework for financial services is largely harmonised at the European level by means of directives and regulations. Hereinafter, the focus will be on consumer payment, deposit and lending services.

Payment services

For some time, the main piece of EU legislation governing the retail payments market was the Payment Services Directive12 (PSD1). This directive established the same set of rules on payments across the whole European Economic Area, covering all types of electronic and non-cash payments such as credit transfers, direct debits, card payments, and mobile and online payments. The directive also laid the groundwork for the single euro payments area, which allows consumers and businesses to make payments under the same conditions across the euro area.13

PSD1 has been repealed and replaced by the Second Payment Services Directive14 (PSD2), which entered into force on 13 January 2018. PSD2 is complemented by Regulation (EU) 2015/751 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 on interchange fees for card-based payment transaction. PSD2 aims to respond to the significant technical innovations in the retail payments market and the emergence of new types of payment services. It includes provisions to make it easier and safer to use internet payment services, better protect consumers against fraud, abuse, and payment problems, and promote innovative mobile and internet payment services.15

PSD2 has been transposed into Belgian law by means of the Payment Services Regulations:

  1. Title 3 'Payment Services' of Book VII 'Payment and Credit Services' of the Code of Economic Law; and
  2. the Act of 11 March 2018 on the status and supervision 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.

Deposit-taking

The business of taking deposits or other repayable funds from the public is regulated at the EU level by the Capital Requirements Directive.16 This directive has primarily been transposed into Belgian law by means of the Act of 25 April 2014 on the status and the supervision of credit institutions and listed companies (the Banking Act).

Persons or undertakings that are not (duly authorised) credit institutions are generally prohibited from taking deposits or other repayable funds from the public. Credit institutions are undertakings whose business is to take deposits or other repayable funds from the public and to grant credits for their own account. Attention is drawn to the two cumulative criteria, taking deposits and granting credit, which represent the core activities of credit institutions.

Consumer lending services

Consumer credit is any credit, regardless of the name or form, that is being granted to a consumer, except mortgage credit. For a long time consumer credit laws and regulations were only partially harmonised at the EU level by means of Directive 2008/48 on credit agreements for consumers. Differences in national laws regulating consumer credit led to distortions of competition among creditors in the European Union and created obstacles to the internal market. In order to facilitate the emergence of a well-functioning EU market in consumer credit, the Consumer Credit Directive17 was adopted and entered into force on 11 June 2011.

Mortgage credit generally refers to any credit secured by a mortgage security. Due to its specific nature and differences in national and regional immovable property markets, it was long considered appropriate to exclude mortgage credit from the scope of EU legislation and have this regulated at national level. The financial crisis, however, has shown that irresponsible behaviour by market participants can undermine the foundations of the financial system, leading to a lack of confidence among all parties, in particular consumers, and potentially severe social and economic consequences with potentially significant macroeconomic spill-over effects. In order to facilitate the emergence of a smoothly functioning EU market with a high level of consumer protection in the area of credit agreements relating to immovable property and in order to ensure that consumers looking for such agreements are able to do so confident in the knowledge that the institutions they interact with act in a professional and responsible manner, the Mortgage Credit Directive18 was adopted which entered into force on 21 March 2016.

The Consumer Credit and the Mortgage Credit Directives have been transposed into Belgian law by means of Title 4 'Credit Agreements' of Book VII 'Payment and Credit Services' of the Code of Economic Law (the Credit Regulations). The rules on consumer credit can be found in Chapter I of the Credit Regulations (the Consumer Credit Regulations). The rules on mortgage credit can be found in Chapter II of the Credit Regulations.

ii Supervision

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

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

The NBB is responsible for ensuring the macro- and microeconomic stability of the financial system. As such, the NBB is also responsible for the individual prudential supervision of the financial actors that may hold client money (including credit institutions and payment institutions).

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.19

Among others, the FSMA is responsible for the supervision of consumer and mortgage credit providers.

The NBB and the FSMA have wide powers and competences for the purposes of carrying out their supervisory tasks:20

  1. 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.
  2. The NBB and the FSMA can impose a variety of preventive and corrective measures.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. The NBB and the FSMA can also impose administrative sanctions (such as fines and other penalties) for infringements of financial legislation.

The 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 the 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

The provision of payment services is a regulated activity. First, this means that providers of payment services need to obtain authorisation from the NBB (or the competent authority of the home Member State). Such authorisation is valid for the whole of the European Economic Area. In addition, the Payment Services Regulations lay down rules about the information that providers have to give to consumers and about the rights and obligations linked to the use of payment services.

The Payment Services Regulations provide for a limited list of regulated payment services:

  1. services enabling cash to be placed on a payment account and all the operations required for operating a payment account;
  2. services enabling cash withdrawals from a payment account and all the operations required for operating a payment account;
  3. the 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, including:
    • 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;
  4. 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;
  5. issuing of payment instruments or acquiring payment instruments;
  6. money remittance;
  7. payment initiation services; and
  8. account information services.

The last two services (payment initiation services and account information services) have been newly introduced by PSD2 in order to keep up with technological developments in the payments area:

  1. Payment initiation services play a part in e-commerce payments by establishing a software bridge between the website of the merchant and the online banking platform of the payer's account servicing payment service provider in order to initiate internet payments on the basis of a credit transfer. They enable the payment initiation service provider to provide comfort to a payee that the payment has been initiated in order to provide an incentive to the payee to release the goods or to deliver the service without undue delay.
  2. Account information services provide the payment service user with aggregated online information on one or more payment accounts held with one or more other payment service providers and accessed via online interfaces of the account servicing payment service provider. The payment service user is thus able to have an overall view of its financial situation immediately at any given moment.

These services raise a series of legal issues, such as consumer protection, security and liability as well as competition and data protection issues, in particular regarding protection of the payment service users' data. In order to address those issues, these services are now also included within the scope of PSD2, which allows the competent authorities to better monitor and supervise the activities.

In order to enable payment service providers to provide payment services, it is indispensable that they have the possibility to open and maintain accounts with credit institutions. Under PSD2, credit institutions are required to grant payment institutions access to their payment accounts services on an objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate basis. Such access must be sufficiently extensive as to allow payment institutions to provide payment services in an unhindered and efficient manner.

ii Recent developments

Merchants are no longer permitted to charge an additional cost for payments with a debit or a credit card. The Act of 19 July 2018 amends Book VII of the Code of Economic Law 'Payment and Credit Services' inter alia to completely ban the surcharge for the use of payment instruments (with effect from 9 August 2018).21 The surcharge prohibition applies, regardless of the type of payment instrument, to both in-store and online purchases, including transactions using debit cards, credit cards, payment cards issued by three-party schemes and other means of payment (e.g., non-EUR direct debits).

IV DEPOSIT ACCOUNTS AND OVERDRAFTS

i Overview

Access to banking services

In modern society, having a payment account is indispensable for consumers' day-to-day lives. A payment account enables consumers to make and receive payments, purchase goods or services online, pay bills, obtain credit, etc.22 Hence, when people are excluded from having a payment 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 engage 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.23

In 2001, the Belgian legislator considered that the right to financial services, in particular the access to financial banking services, is a fundamental right and that it should be guaranteed by law.24 Consequently, on 24 March 2003 the Act on the implementation of a basic banking service was adopted, which ensured the offering of basic banking services free of charge.

Today the rules on the basic banking service can be found in Chapter 8 'Basic Banking Service' of Title 3 'Payment Services' of Book VII 'Payment and Credit Services' of the Code of Economic Law. 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 includes:

a services enabling cash to be placed on a payment account and all the operations required for operating a payment account;

  • services enabling cash withdrawals from a payment account and all the operations required for operating a payment account; and
  • the 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, including the execution of:
  • direct debits, including one-off direct debits;
  • payment transactions through a payment card or a similar device; and
  • credit transfers, including standing orders.

The annual fee charged for the basic banking service may not exceed €16.20.25

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

  1. already has a basic banking service;
  2. already has a payment account (even with another credit institution);
  3. already has an account or accounts for a total amount exceeding €6,000 per year; or
  4. 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. 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 (the Guarantee Fund).

In Belgium, the deposit guarantee scheme has been established within the Deposit and Consignation Office of the Federal Public Services Finances: the Guarantee Fund. 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

Overdrafts allow consumers to draw down funds that 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'. Qualifying as a consumer lending service, overdrafts fall within the scope of application of the Credit Regulations,26 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

Access to banking services

On 22 December 2017, the Act amending and implementing provisions regarding payment accounts and payment services in various books of the Code of Economic Law was adopted. This act transposes Directive 2014/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on the comparability of fees related to payment accounts, payment account switching and access to payment accounts with basic features. Chapter 8 'Basic Banking Service' has been amended with a view to transposing Chapter IV of the directive into Belgian law. Among other things, there is now an explicit requirement for credit institutions not to discriminate against consumers on the grounds of their nationality or place of residence, or by reason of racism or xenophobia. Furthermore, the requirements for holding a payment account with basic features should be in no way discriminatory. This means that access to basic banking services should be ensured irrespective of the consumers' financial circumstances, such as their employment status, level of income, credit history or personal bankruptcy.

PSD2

In order to enable payment institutions to provide payment services, it is an indispensable requirement that they can open and maintain accounts with credit institutions.27 Under PSD2, credit institutions are required to grant payment institutions access to their payment accounts services on an objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate basis. That access must be sufficiently extensive to allow payment institutions to provide payment services in an unhindered and efficient manner.

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, by which a creditor makes available to a consumer purchasing power, money or any other means of payment; the consumer can use the credit by one or more drawdowns (i.e., by means of a payment instrument or any other means); and the consumer commits himself to repaying the credit as agreed. In the 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 consumer 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.28 The zero setting term will restart upon the first drawdown following the last zero setting.

With regard to revolving consumer credit and revolving mortgage credit with a movable 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:

  1. the precise period to which the statement of account relates;
  2. the amounts and dates of drawdowns;
  3. the total amount outstanding, and the date of the previous statement;
  4. the new total amount outstanding;
  5. the dates and amounts of payments made by the consumer;
  6. the applicable borrowing rate(s);
  7. the separate amounts of any charges;
  8. where applicable, the minimum amount to be paid and the interest due;
  9. where applicable, the outstanding balance due from the previous statement (except with regard to overdraft facilities);
  10. where applicable, the different dates of the charges due (except with regard to overdraft facilities); and
  11. 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 regard 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 Regulations.

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 the Credit Regulations.

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 regard 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

Peer-to-peer lending

Peer-to-peer lending (P2P lending), a major trend in the fintech industry, generally refers to the practice whereby lenders and borrowers are directly matched through an online platform (without the need for an intermediary financial institution). In Belgium, however, P2P lending as such is still prohibited. First, persons or undertakings that are not credit institutions are generally prohibited from taking deposits or other repayable funds from the public. In addition, in accordance with current case law, persons who regularly borrow money to consumers by means of P2P lending will likely be subject to the specific licensing and registration requirements for creditors.29

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.30

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 201731 shows that most of the complaints 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 digitisation 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.


Footnotes

1 Pierre E Berger is a partner and Pauline Kustermans is an associate at DLA Piper.

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 The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) and the National Bank of Belgium.

9 European Securities and Markets Authority.

12 Directive 2007/64/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2017 on payment services in the internal market.

14 Directive (EU) 2015/2366 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on payment services in the internal market.

16 Directive 2013/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on access to the activity of credit institutions and the prudential supervision of credit institutions and investment firms.

17 Directive 2008/48 of the European Union and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on credit agreements for consumers.

18 Directive 2014/17 of the European Union and of the Council of 4 February 2014 on credit agreements for consumers relating to residential immovable property.

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

20 id., 20.

21 P Berger, Attention! The implementation of PSD II in Belgium is now final, https://inform.dlapiper.com/
20/864/uploads/psdii.pdf.

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

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

24 id.

25 Subject to indexation.

26 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.

27 Recital 39 PSD2.

28 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.

29 Gilis, D, 'Online peer-to-peer lending: op zoek naar een passend wetgevend kader', RBF-BFW, 2016/2, pp. 161 to 174.

30 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.