There seems to be a new trend: Because many banks, including Volksbanken and Sparkassen, are now charging a deposit for larger amounts on the current account, bank customers are opening new overnight money accounts in order to be able to split their money among several banks.

At least that is what a study by Raisin DS GmbH suggests, to which the merged interest portals Weltsparen and Deposit Solutions belong.

The study points out that around 500 banks and savings banks in Germany now demand a custody fee or negative interest from their customers.

This limit was gradually reduced, initially to 100,000 euros, then to 50,000 euros, and at some institutes even to 25,000 euros.

Christian Siedenbiedel

Editor in business.

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Some bank customers now invest more in securities when they cross the line, as banks often suggest. Others, however, apparently simply open a new overnight money account with another institution, for example a direct bank, in order to be able to better distribute their money between several banks and thus to stay below the limit for negative interest rates. And this despite the fact that there is hardly any interest left on the overnight money accounts - and this has therefore often not attracted much interest in previous years.

In any case, this is how the study interprets figures from the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Deutsche Bundesbank, which were exclusively compiled and evaluated.

Accordingly, the number of overnight money accounts in Germany experienced a surge in the past year, after having been bobbing for years.

By contrast, deposits per call money account declined over the same period.

The combination of these two developments speak for a stronger division of the funds on several accounts, it said.

The savings of the Germans as a whole, however, continued to rise.

More accounts with less money

Specifically: The bank balances of private households in Germany, without, for example, business balances of the self-employed, would have increased to 2.6 trillion euros up to and including the second quarter of 2021. Most of the money landed unchecked in the current account. But the number of overnight money accounts increased by 4 percent last year, after the growth rates had been well below 1 percent in the previous five years. At the same time, the average credit per call money account fell by 1.9 percent in 2020, while it rose by an average of 3.9 percent between 2014 and 2019. The result: There are now more call money accounts per capita in Germany - but with less money on them.

At the request of the FAZ, the Bundesbank submitted excerpts from its banking statistics, which also suggest a significant increase in the number of overnight money accounts in the past year.

Max Herbst from FMH-Finanzberatung said: "It is quite logical that customers should distribute the money better if one or the other bank charges a custody fee." Bank ING, on the other hand, said on request that the trend was more likely among its customers in the direction of securities savings, less in the direction of overnight money.

The Stuttgart banking professor Hans-Peter Burghof was of the opinion that the negative interest rates had "set the bank customers in motion": They were looking for alternatives - and in this search they currently tended to end up with the overnight money account rather than, for example, with the savings book.

What do bank customers do on interest rate platforms?

The two large interest rate platforms Weltsparen and Deposit Solutions have also examined the behavior of their own customers for the first time since their merger. They say the platforms often functioned as a substitute for opening new overnight money accounts. However, the customers of interest rate platforms distributed their money on an average of just under three accounts, while otherwise bank customers with fixed-term deposits or overnight deposits would only use an average of 1.58 accounts.

"Our analysis shows that customers are making intensive use of the option of distributing their money across several banks," said Tamaz Georgadze, co-CEO of Raisin DS.

Contrary to what many people think, the bank customers on the interest rate platforms usually did not behave as "interest hoppers" who constantly shift their money from one bank to another.

Only about 0.7 percent of the platform customers move their money continuously, 99.3 percent invested it more long-term, as a sample of 35,000 overnight money customers of the platforms shows.

The distribution across several banks increases over time: in their first month, platform users chose an average of 1.5 overnight and fixed-term deposit products from 2.1 banks in 1.2 countries - after five years there were an average of 3.8 products from 4, 6 banks from 2.9 countries.