Newsletter • Basic banking services now also available for enterprises
On 1 May 2021, the Belgian Law of 8 November 2020 shall enter into force. This Belgian Law introducing provisions on corporate banking services in book VII of the Belgian Economic Code (BEC), entitles enterprises registered in the Crossroads Bank for Enterprises (CBE) or applying for such registration, who have been refused by at least three financial institutions, to a basic banking service. Entrepreneurs from a various range of sectors (such as the diamond sector, the football sector, the blockchain sector, the hospitality sector, etc.), as well as previously bankrupt entrepreneurs wanting to restart a business, often experience difficulties to find a financial institution that is willing to provide them with a minimum banking service. This is problematic since, in Belgium, it is impossible to start a business without having a bank account. In the post-corona crisis period, it is not inconceivable that many enterprises may experience payment difficulties and possibly go bankrupt. The Belgian Law of 8 November 2020, provides entrepreneurs the possibility to restart faster. Pursuant to this law, an enterprise established in Belgium, registered in the CBE, who’s application for a minimum of banking services has been refused by three financial institutions, is entitled to a basic banking service. Financial institutions’ refusals must be motivated in writing on an individual basis and communicated to the enterprise within ten business days following the submitted application. Collective assessments by financial institutions, such as merely belonging to a certain sector or professional category, are therefore outdated. Enterprises can only be refused on the basis of anti-money laundering legislation, or if they already hold a payment account in Belgium or another EU Member State. The basic banking services for enterprises includes the execution of (i) payment transactions (including the transfer of funds to a payment account with the user's payment service provider or with another payment service provider), (ii) direct debits, (iii) payment transactions through a payment instrument, and (iv) wire transfers. The right of lending is, however, excluded. The enterprise denied payment services, may request a basic banking service at the chamber for basic banking services (basisbankdienst-kamer) (a part of the Federal Public Service of Economy), which shall request advice from the Financial Information Processing Unit (Cel voor Financiële Informatieverwerking) (FIPU). The chamber for basic banking services will appoint a financial institution established in Belgium to provide the basic banking services after, either a positive advice of the FIPU, or a lack of reaction from the FIPU within sixty business days. The FIPU can only refuse in specific cases, mainly in case of a link with money laundering or terrorist financing. The appointed financial institution may only refuse the basis banking service, if a director of the enterprise has been convicted for fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, forgery or abuse of trust. Do you have any questions about this matter? Quorum is pleased to assist you. You can always get in touch with your regular contact at Quorum or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.