Germany to make banks offer accounts to refugees and the homeless

Germany to make banks offer accounts to refugees and the homeless

The German government is planning to bring in a law forcing banks to provide homeless people and asylum seekers with access to basic accounts.

Under the proposed law, approved by Germany's cabinet this week, everyone will be able to open accounts at any bank, and make cash withdrawals, card payments, direct debits and money transfers.

The new law would bring Germany in line with a 2014 EU directive. At the moment, banks can refuse to let someone open an account if they are unable to provide identification or proof of residency, according to broadcaster DW.

This has proved a major stumbling block for homeless people and migrants. Germany is currently in the midst of a huge influx of migrants, having agreed to take in people fleeing war-torn Iraq and Syria.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas says: "Those who don't have a bank account, don't have good prospects on the labour market. Hunting for a flat is also a problem for many people without an account."

Comments: (3)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 29 October, 2015, 08:582 likes 2 likes The EU payment account directive contains these rights for EU citizens but it does not relax the anti money laundry snd anti terrorist financing controls for banks. These requirements are on UN level and cannot unilaterally be changed by single country. Banks obiding German rules can be prosecuted in other countries. How do you perform an AML/ATF check on a foreigner without passport and other ID documents?
A Finextra member
A Finextra member 30 October, 2015, 04:10Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Kudos to the German Government for such plan which will ease the parctical difficulties currently being faced by asylum seekers.


Graham Seel
Graham Seel - BankTech Consulting - Concord 30 October, 2015, 15:321 like 1 like

I agree that AML is a challenge with this. The answer is that this is a basic account, and should have significant limitations on cash movement, credit limits, etc. Many countries outside Europe are implementing risk-based simplied AML requirements - this would be a further extension that the German (and other European) government could implement alongside this critical financial inclusion initiative.