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EU gives up in bid to help consumers on currency conversion scam - adopts consumer-friendly stance in cross-border payments

19 December 2018
by BEUC -- last modified 19 December 2018

The EU institutions have reached a deal which will not prevent a currency conversion scam that affects travellers.


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The EU Commission and Parliament capitulated in the face of Member State opposition to legislate on a practice called 'dynamic currency conversion', which is when travellers are asked whether they want to pay in their home currency when abroad.

The practice is often used by merchants in shops or at ATMs, and is increasingly widespread across EU countries. The consumer is given a choice about seeing the amount they pay or withdraw in their home currency or in the local currency. It almost always leads to the consumer paying more if they select the home currency option.

Monique Goyens, Director General of The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), said:

"After the initial fuss that the EU was going to tackle this scam, it is bewildering that the Commission and Parliament surrendered so easily to the Member States. The evidence around this scam is plentiful so how can the EU just turn its back on the consumer detriment? What is coming out of this negotiation is a complicated and fairly useless text from the consumer's perspective on currency conversion."

The EU negotiators preferred to focus on another aspect of the legislative file which is to – rightly – bring down the costs of transferring euros across the EU, including in non-euro-using countries. Consumers currently pay high fees for these kinds of transactions. The agreement will now bring the costs of such a transaction in line with the cost of an equivalent transaction inside a non-euro-using country.

Monique Goyens added: "Consumers from the 8 non-euros countries will appreciate the new rules on bringing down the cost of cross-border euro payments if the banks do not circumvent the rules by increasing their conversion fees."

BEUC acts as the umbrella group in Brussels for its members and its main task is to represent them at European level and defend the interests of all Europe's consumers. BEUC investigates EU decisions and developments likely to affect consumers, with a special focus on five areas identified as priorities by its members: Financial Services, Food, Digital Rights, Consumer Rights & Enforcement and Sustainability.

European Consumer Organisation (BEUC)