AG Opinion on ‘payment accounts’ for the purposes of PSD

In the ongoing case of Bundeskammer für Arbeiter und Angestellte v ING-DiBa Direktbank Austria Niederlassung der ING-DiBa AG (Case C-191/17), the European Court of Justice has been asked for the first time to interpret the term ‘payment account’ for the purposes of the Payment Services Directive (PSD).

The Advocate General’s Opinion has now been handed down, which advises that an online savings account that allows unlimited transfers to and from the account, but which requires that such transfers must always be carried out through a reference account, should not be deemed a payment account for the purposes of the PSD.

AG Tanchev notes that in its guidance document the Commission has indicated that a ‘savings account’ where the holder can place and withdraw funds without any restriction should be considered as being a ‘payment account’ for the purposes of the PSD; whereas a ‘fixed-term deposit’ where withdrawals are restricted, would not be. However the AG observes that one of the key characteristics of a payment account for the purposes of the PSD, is the ability to execute and receive payment transactions to and from a third party.  The AG also considers the description and definition of a payment account in the Payments Account Directive.  The AG notes that as the designated reference account would be a payment account, the customer would still have the benefit of PSD protections.

It should be remembered that  AG’s Opinions are not binding on the Court, although in practice they are usually followed.