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PR(03)24: Report on Cross-Border Credit Transfers and Cost of Card Transactions


Article 12 of Directive 97/5/EC on cross-border credit transfers requires the Commission of the European Communities to report to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of the Directive. The report deals, in particular, with the time limits for credit transfers set forth in Article 6 (1) of the Directive. Within the framework of the EEA Agreement this task falls within the competence of the EFTA Surveillance Authority as regards EFTA States.

The present report is based on the Authority's study of cross-border credit transfers, cash withdrawals with cards from ATMs and purchases with cards that took place between April and November 2002. The transactions took place between the three EFTA States that are parties to the EEA Agreement, as well as between the EFTA States and chosen EU Member States (Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands). The credit transfers and the cash withdrawal transactions were of the amount of 100 EUR. Each of the purchase transactions was in the range of 10 to 20 EUR.

The main findings in the report were as follows:

Cross-border credit transfer

  • Out of 64 transfers, one did not arrive in the beneficiary's account. The success rate in percentage was therefore 98,44%. This hit rate is roughly comparable to that in a similar report prepared by the European Commission where 99,53% found its destination.
  • The most common time (the mode) for transfers to reach the beneficiary's account was 4 days. The shortest time was 3 days, while the longest was 6 days. Accordingly, no transfer took more than the 6 days allowed by the Directive.
  • A typical cost (the median) for transferring the equivalent of 100 EUR between countries was 16,65 EUR in total charges. The average was 18,37 EUR. The average cost in the European Commission's study was 24,09 EUR.
  • Iceland stands out as the most expensive beneficiary's country, followed by Norway.
  • The average cost of transfer to each of the three EFTA States was higher than the average costs to any of the three EU Member States included in the study. The cost of transfers from Belgium to the two other EU Member States studied (Germany and the Netherlands, 8,18 EUR) was roughly a third of the cost of transfers between the EFTA States (23,51 EUR).
  • Despite instructions from senders that all costs should be charged to the senders' account, it was common that the beneficiary was also charged the cost of the transaction. In 5 out of the 6 most expensive transfers the beneficiary paid part of the charges.
  • One of the Norwegian banks involved in the study always charged a cost to the beneficiary despite clear instructions from the sender's bank that the costs were to be carried by the sender.

Cash withdrawal

  • The typical cost of withdrawing the equivalent of 100 EUR with both debit and credit cards was 4 EUR or 4%. No significant difference exists between charges on credit cards and those on debit cards.

Purchase cost

  • Purchases by card were free of direct charges with the exception of a Belgian debit card (0,60 EUR) and Norwegian credit cards (0,26 EUR).

Conformity Assessment

  • All three EFTA States have properly implemented Directive 97/5/EC into their legislation. The problems that have been identified in the study are, therefore, due to misapplication of the national law and, possibly, lack of supervision. 

For further information please contact Mr. Jóhannes Sigurdsson (Senior Officer, Internal Market Affairs Directorate), telephone (+32)(0) 2 286 18 67.  

18 September 2003

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