Some useful Italian banking information

Welcome everyone to the new ‘Expat finances in Italy’ blog.  I hope you find the information interesting and informative.

I thought I should start with a little useful information on Italian banking services.  It is quite often the case that Expats think that Italian banks are years behind their home country banking counterparts.  In the case of the UK, they have some way to catch up, but we should not get too complacent.  It might seem like the banks are falling behind in many ways, but thankfully for you the regulators are forcing change pretty quickly.  This is all good news for the consumer.

So here is a little known legislative change  that came about in March 2010.  It might help you when your money disappears into the banking ether again for 2 weeks ( as mine recently did).  Quoting law to your local bank manager might just put the ball back in your court.

We all know that banks are sometimes slow in crediting payments and very fast in debiting, but new legislation from the EU now introduces statutory deadlines for all banks operating in Italy.

  • Ordinary Italian bank transfers in Euro must now be credited to the bank account of the recipient the following day.  The same applies to other currency transfers in the EU, provided that the currency conversion is made outside Italy.  However, the banks can agree delays ‘as long as it is agreed with their customer in advance’.
  • As far as the interest is concerned, the new legislation provides that the “Data Valuata (the date that the interest will start to accrue), cannot be later than the day following the date when the sum was actually received on the customer bank account.  From the same date the funds must be available to the recipient.
  • Rights of Italian banks` customers are also enhanced and specifically protected by this legislation. Upon receipt of a payment order an Italian bank is now expressly responsible for its correct performance. Where any funds are incorrectly paid out, the bank is required immediately to credit the customer with the amount outstanding.
  • In addition, Italian banks are required to assist the customer in the recovery of funds,  where it is the fault of the customer in respect of an incorrect payment.
  • Banks in Italy are also required to operate a safe and reliable payment system.  They cannot send cards or payment instructions without the expressed instruction of the account holder (that would seem obvious).  And they must provide a safe communication channel through which to report fraud, misuse or unauthorized payments.  After the notification has been made no further payment may be allowed to be debited to the customer.
  • In case of disagreement with your bank, it is up to the bank to prove that it received appropriate instructions, and carried them out correctly.  And you must report any incorrect/unauthorised use of your account within 13 months.
  • Ordinary cheques must also be credited within 5 days of payment.  Special bankers drafts in 4 days.  And interest must start accruing within 1 and 3 days respectively.

So what you may have taken for granted on your foreign bank account has now come to a branch near you in Italy.   To be forewarned is to be forearmed as they say, so if you feel that the service you are getting from your bank is not satisfactory then feel safe that the law is now safely on your side.