“Belgian Banks Under Pressure to Raise Passbook Rates: Latest Updates and Discussions”

2023-05-30 07:14:24

Lelgian banks are under increasing pressure to raise passbook rates as they see their own revenues rise thanks to the intervention of the European Central Bank (ECB). Currently, the banks are raising the interest rates of the new credits they grant. Many discussions are ongoing.

Questioned by the Echo on this subject, Michael Anseeuw, the CEO of BNP Paribas Fortis, spoke. “Sometimes it feels like the banks are putting their deposits under the mattress and letting them sleep. As we play our role in society more than ever,” he said.

Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) has already called on banks to pay savers better, while Secretary of State for Consumer Protection Alexia Bertrand (Open VLD) has threatened to impose a legal minimum interest rate on savings accounts . In the meantime, the National Bank has also been asked to examine a draft law from Vooruit which would establish a direct link between the interest rate on savings accounts and the key ECB rates.

“Consumers expect the interest they receive to increase to the maximum and complain that it hasn’t happened already. It’s a normal reflex. Savings remuneration is inevitably set to increase. By how much and in what time frame, it depends from bank to bank: each institution operates according to its own model. But I think that the debate of the last few days is unfair because we rely on erroneous information to reach certain conclusions, ”reacts Michael Anseeuw.

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Mortgage rates

The resentment of consumers is also explained by the fact that the banks are increasing the rates of their new mortgages and are careful not to raise the interest on savings. “Furthermore, nearly three-quarters of mortgages have a fixed interest rate. The average interest rate on Belgian mortgages is 1.8%. Each year, only part of this historic portfolio is repaid and replaced by a limited number of new loans that yield more. As a result, interest income from this loan portfolio will only increase very gradually . If a mortgage yields an average of 4% today, this will in theory give banks the possibility of raising the interest rate on savings deposits by an additional 0.3% in the course of 2024. “, he calculates.

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