New comparison platform for consumers is getting closer

It should have been finished more than a year ago. But now there is apparently movement in the establishment of a state-certified comparison platform for checking accounts.

At the ATM in the Sparkasse.

In an old stalemate seems to be at least moving somewhat: Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) has been guilty of a state-certified comparison platform for checking accounts since October last year, which should actually be available more than a year ago with the implementation of a European directive.

Now there is a first progress in the obviously very tough process: The TÜV Saarland has successfully passed the procedure at the German Accreditation Body (DAkkS) as a certification body for such state-recognized account comparison platforms. Comparison platforms can now apply for certification there: Several large platforms, including Check 24 and Verivox, have already expressly expressed their interests.

Actually, such a platform should already be available to consumers by October 31, 2018, according to a European Directive 2014/92 / EU, which was implemented into German law with the so-called Payment Accounts Act. The decision was made against a state comparison platform and preferred to rely on the certification of private comparison platforms.

This was intended to respond to criticism of the platforms that they do not always work fairly and that sometimes the self-interest of the platforms influences the result of the comparison. The certification process was intended to combine the strengths of a private-sector solution, for example in terms of efficiency, with the advantages of state neutrality.

In practice, however, it turned out that it was not that easy to agree on criteria and procedures at all. In any case, it took a long time until all questions between the accreditation body and the certification body had been clarified, once an interested certification body had been found. Now the first platform has to be certified before it can start.

The hurdles to change have not become any lower

The comparison portal Verivox, which is one of the applicants for the new job, reported on Wednesday that there is definitely interest in such an offer. A representative survey carried out by Civey on behalf of Verivox showed that around one in five people in Germany (18.3 percent) could imagine changing the current account they mainly use next year. 13.9 percent would have changed their main current account at least once in the past five years.

Oliver Maier, Managing Director of Verivox Finanzvergleich GmbH, said: “We expect that the willingness to switch will increase slightly after the first TÜV certification of a comparison website, because current accounts are then more in focus.”

But one of the most important hurdles to change remains, Maier continues. Many bank customers feared the high cost of switching accounts. Consumers hardly ever use the statutory account switching assistance. Anyone who wants to increase competition and the willingness to switch among consumers should advocate binding minimum standards for digital account switching, which many banks are already offering on a voluntary basis, according to Maier. “A decisive step would be a legal obligation for the banks to actively participate in the digital account switching service and to transmit all account transactions to the new bank in a standardized manner over at least 13 months”, says the Verivox managing director.