Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Questions (81)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

81. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the right a citizen has to a bank account. [20600/13]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Currently any Irish citizen can open a bank account upon proof of address and identity. When opening a current bank account the bank is obliged to comply with identification requirements of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010. Customers can present a wide range of forms of photographic identification and proof of address. Indeed the General Principles of the Consumer Protection Code requires that customers of regulated entities including banks are not prevented from accessing basic financial services. My Department recently piloted a Standard Bank Account and it is planned to roll out this product on a national basis by the end of 2013. The Standard Bank Account is a current bank account aimed at the financially excluded in Irish society. During the pilot period of the Standard Bank Account the participating banks dealt with customers who may not have had identification which met the ideal requirements but could use the alternative forms of identification that were acceptable under the Anti-Money Laundering Acts. Once this product is rolled out on a national basis this should further facilitate those wishing to open a bank account in Ireland.

At the European level, the European Commission are expected to publish in early May, legislative proposals referred to as 'The Bank Account Package', which aim to improve access to basic financial services and make other improvements to policies on bank accounts across Europe. A particularly relevant proposal which is expected in this Commission initiative is that access to a current bank account should become a right for all EU citizens. As Presidency of the European Council, Ireland will open discussions on this and my Department will give these proposals the necessary impetus they deserve.