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Banking and financial services


In Europe nowadays we can choose  among a big variety of offers, different from every country, and we can find the best deal for us. It is also possible to buy these services online, thanks to the Directive on the distance marketing of financial services.

In Italy and in other EU countries, choosing a bank account or a different financial service ( loan, investment, insurance…) requires a lot of attention and a minimum competence in order to choose the best option.

- Can I become a customer of a foreign bank or financial operator?

 Yes, the Treaties  foresee the free movement of services, therefore there are no obstacles.

There can be restrictive rules in some countries, however they cannot be in opposition to Regulations and Directives.

 - Which advantages can such a choice have?

 In order to evaluate the possible advantages, it is necessary to know deeply what we want to do, then it will be possible to check the different offers on the internet.

The main international banks offer the same services of Italian banks: it is however important to verify if all the protections foreseen in Italy apply also in the other country.

There are also some disadvantages in opening a bank account outside your own country. The biggest is the non communication between the different national systems for some operations, for example the RID, for which longer times and higher costs could be necessary.

The SEPA ( Single Euro Payments Area) is the area where citizens, companies and other economic players will be able to make and receive payments in euros (whether between or within national boundaries) under the same basic conditions, rights and obligations, regardless of their location. The SEPA makes all electronic payments in the euro area as easy as cash payments. It means the possibility to make fast and secure transfers between bank accounts anywhere in the euro area.

- Is the distance selling of financial services subject to particular rules of consumer’s protection?

The distance selling of financial services is regulated by the Directive 2002/65/CE, implemented in Italy with D.lgs n. 190 19/08/2005. The Directive  covers contracts for retail financial services (banking, insurance, payment and investment services, including pension funds) that are negotiated at a distance (e.g. by telephone, fax or over the Internet), i.e. by any means which do not require the simultaneous physical presence of the parties to the contract.

 The Directive gives the consumer the right to reflect before concluding a contract with a supplier. The supplier is thus required to transmit a draft contract to the consumer, in writing or on a durable medium (e.g. floppy disk, CD-ROM or e-mail), including all the contractual terms and conditions. The reflection period is 14 days, during which all the terms and conditions remain valid. The parties are nonetheless free to agree on a longer period or to negotiate other conditions.

 The consumer has the right to withdraw within 14 days (30 days in the case of life assurance and personal pension operations) in the following circumstances:

· when the contract has been signed before the consumer has received prior notice of the contractual terms and conditions (e.g. consumer takes out an insurance policy in order to obtain immediate cover);

· when the consumer has received the contractual terms and conditions but has been unfairly induced to conclude the contract during the reflection period.

- Can I open a bank account in a bank of another EU country?

The consumer who goes abroad can open a bank account in the country of destination. With this account he can do all the credit and debit operations he wishes.

Regulation 2560/2001 on cross border  payments in euro uniformed the cost of transfers between accounts, which is now equal to that paid nationally: it applies on cross border transfers less than 12500 euros.

- Can I get a loan from a foreign bank or financial operator?

The request for a loan can be submitted in every EU country.

The applied conditions can be different, therefore it can happen that different banks propose different offers at different conditions.

Furthermore, the “free movement” regards all EU countries and not only those using the Euro. For this reason a loan can be given in another currency.  

- Financial instruments

As for banking services, also investment operations can be done in all EU countries, also through the internet. The possibility to use foreign intermediaries has been facilitated by the Directive Mifid (2004/39/EC), which harmonized consumer’s protection at European level.

The Directive regulates also instruments of money market, derivates, options, currencies, futures, swaps…

- Operational activities with foreign banks

A good alternative to the opening of a bank account abroad, is to operate through Italian banks.

All main national banks offer the possibility to do banking and financial operations in other countries; in particular payments, warranties emissions,  cashing of cheques…

In many cases, thanks to cooperation agreements, the same Italian bank can act as the intermediary in the relation with the foreign bank

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