What is the portability of phone numbers

The Commission services have dealt with the question of portability of bank account numbers on several occasions. As things stand at present, it does not seem possible to transfer the procedure used in the area of ​​telephone numbers to bank accounts. However, other ways of achieving the same goal are conceivable.

The Commission will shortly present a proposal for a new legal framework for payments in the internal market. The question of portability was also dealt with in the discussion papers published as part of the preparatory work for this project.

The following conclusions can be drawn from the contributions received so far:

On the one hand, the portability of bank account numbers is less beneficial, as the customer only gives his account number to a limited group of people, mainly people who make payments in favor of his account. For example, the portability of bank account numbers would not solve the problem of standing orders;
Second, portability is very difficult to implement, as there is no international numbering system for bank accounts, as is the case with telephone numbers. The bank account numbers are structured differently from country to country and are made up of different information;
Finally, the extensive studies carried out in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom on the introduction of domestic portability showed that such a measure would be very costly.

The goal pursued with "portability" - facilitating customer mobility, i.e. easier switching between banking companies in order to be able to effectively use the competitive opportunities of the internal market - should, however, be pursued. Possibly, in the area of ​​mobility, measures can be taken to facilitate switching between banking companies. It would be conceivable, for example, that the predecessor bank would transmit all information about any direct debit authorizations or standing orders to the new bank in order to avoid any interruption in the account transactions.

The Commission is expected to adopt a communication on a new legal framework for payments in the near future. In this communication, she is also likely to address issues of bank account portability and customer mobility. A copy of this communication will be forwarded to the Honorable Member and to the European Parliament Secretariat as soon as it has been adopted.