Universal banking service: an agreement between the government and the banking industry for the benefit of the non-digital customer

19 July 2021 - 3 min Reading time

More and more people are using digital banking services because of the efficiency and speed of use. However, not everyone is on board with the digitization of banking services. There is a digital divide today. Many people find it difficult to get along with this new way of working. It is important that everyone can fully participate in society as a whole. That is why extra attention for the less or non-digital group of people is necessary.


The rapid digitization is often experienced by the most vulnerable people as a source of stress and isolation. This is especially true for seniors who were not always able to open a current account with a sufficient number of manual services at their bank. To prevent this gap from widening, this Universal Banking Service Charter has been developed.

Attentive to the problems that the digitization of banking services entails for some, the Minister of the Economy Pierre-Yves Dermagne, the Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem and the Secretary of State for Consumer Protection Eva De Bleeker with the banking sector, represented by Febelfin, have therefore taken the initiative for introducing a universal banking service.

This agreement between the banking sector and the government contains a clear commitment to the part of the population that is struggling with the increasing digitization of society. Many banks already offer packages including manual transactions at a reasonable rate, but with the universal banking service this offer will now be further expanded.

The universal banking service takes the form of a package offered at a maximum price of EUR 60 per year (EUR 5 per month). This package gives access to a whole range of banking transactions, such as

  • Minimum 24 free cash withdrawals per year at your own bank's ATMs
  • At least 60 manual transactions per year at the bank's counter
  • A debit card
  • Free printing of paper account statements at the bank branch, monthly collections at the counter (if the bank offers this) or mailing once a month at a reasonable rate
  • The possibility of free direct debiting of invoices (eg energy, water, telecom, etc.) and the free entry of standing payment orders (eg rent).

The protocol will be in force for the next 3 years, and will therefore have to be renegotiated by the next government if necessary.

In short, with the protocol that comes into force on July 19, we ensure a wide range for non-digital customers by introducing the universal banking service at a reasonable price.

In addition to the modalities of a universal banking service, the Charter also includes the commitment to inform consumers even better about the banks' offer and the associated rates. Finally, the government and the banking sector will continue to make efforts to close the digital divide as much as possible.