Germany moving to SEPA – who really benefits?

By | April 23, 2012
I received the new and revised AGBs for my bank account on the weekend. The changes are needed to support a move from the domestic German banking system to SEPA as a unified European banking protocol. And I'm a bit annoyed by the changes.

The biggest changes are:
1. Instead of having unlimited time to report an unauthorized transaction, I only get two months. And yes, there are situations in which this is useful.
2. SEPA authorizations to charge an account work by a three-way (bank + charger, charger + account holder, bank + account holder) handshake instead of a two-way handshake (bank + charger, charger + account holder). To get around this, the AGBs say that the bank assumes that I authorized all charge transactions unless I complain about a particular transaction. In short, I have to work things out with the charger instead of forcing the bank to undo the errant booking.

Both changes are very nice for businesses as it severely restricts what the end customer is entitled to do in the case of an error. That, of course, is not what the informational cover letter accompanying the AGBs say…


10 thoughts on “Germany moving to SEPA – who really benefits?

  1. Sophie Wrobel

    +Claudio Procida I think part of the issue is that no one uses cash in large amounts these days because it is usually associated with strange activities going on. I'm not familiar with payment systems in Italy, but I suspect that if they try to limit cash here, it will be the retired folk who rally together to protest (if someone informs them) as opposed to the young people: in our suburb, almost 75% of households pay for heating oil in cash, and with oil prices skyrocketing, that amount is bound to be a few thousand per transaction.

  2. Claudio Procida

    There's little choice, given that technocrat governments (e.g. Monti in Italy) are severely restricting use of cash by limiting the amount allowed for transactions. Protest anyone?

  3. Sophie Wrobel

    +Gerhard Torges it is theoretically possible – at least, the government has payment options set up for people without a bank account. Only, it's very inconvenient as you'd have to visit everyone once a month in person during their restrictive opening hours to pay your bills… and you don't really have the option of picking and choosing your suppliers from ones which may offer a better value but don't have an office nearby.

  4. Adrian Stabiszewski

    The problem is that even the social networks don't help the consumers to really organize and take some action.
    It's like the weather: we talk about it, but we don't change it.

  5. Gerhard Torges

    You're right. But how to pay in cash for your phone bill? Water, electricity, rent?
    We're too much dependant on the financial industry #banksters already.

  6. Sophie Wrobel

    Heh, the choice seems to be pay with cash, or go with the flow. The decision to unify was ratified over a year ago – but not enough noise back then.

    I detest the oligopoly that the financial industry has. They really deserve a beating from the Verbraucherzentrale, in my opinion.


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