Fortis under fire for new pocket money bank card

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Consumer watchdog organisations are accusing the bank of promoting financial products to children under 12.

2 June 2008

BELGIUM - Consumer watchdog organisations are appalled by the new “pocket money” bank card introduced by Fortis Bank. The rechargeable card allows children to collect money from cash points and pay in shops.

The launch of the card is accompanied by a website that among others, pictures a birthday cake with nine burning candles.

According to consumer watchdog organisation Test-Aankoop, the website is a violation of the banking industry's rule of conduct.

 “That code of conduct clearly states that financial products should not target children under the age of 12,” Mechels of Test-Aankoop says.

“Next to that adverts should not urge minors to demand from parents or other people that they buy the product for them,” the Test-Aankoop spokesman continues. “And this is where Fortis violates the rules again. “A short film on the site incites children to spread the word to parents, grandparents and friends.”

As far as Test-Aankoop is concerned, Fortis is lowering itself to an irresponsible kind of banking. “As far as we see it, they have taken on the part of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, “Test-Aankoop claims.

Fortis denies all allegations
Fortis, on the other hand, doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.

“Our advertising campaign is both informative and correct”, the bank states. “In our view, the website is innocent, the overall tone used is polite and the information given is correct. On top of that, we have presented a test version to a number of parents and they didn’t see any harm in it.

Test-Aankoop, for one, is not convinced and has urged the authorities to take up their responsibility. “If the code of conduct isn’t effective then perhaps it should be changed into a proper law,” the organisation says.

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