It should actually be ready in October 2018, according to a European directive.

Nothing will come of it now before the federal election: The planned state-certified comparison platform for checking accounts in Germany has developed into a permanent construction site.

It should be a way of how bank customers in Germany can compare the rather complex terms and conditions of banks for current accounts, from the account management fee, to custody fees and negative interest, as well as card fees and possible withdrawal fees at ATMs and counters, without having to pay for them.

Christian Siedenbiedel

Editor in business.

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The layman might think that such a comparison platform couldn't be that difficult to set up, since there have long been similar comparison sites for everything from hotels to electricity providers that many people use every day. But this comparison page for current accounts, which should be initiated under the leadership of Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD), obviously has it all.

In January, the first attempt was actually simply switched off again after only five months. When the European Union demanded such a comparison for every country, the German government did not opt ​​for a state platform. Instead, there should be a state certification process for a private platform operator. The comparison company Check 24 managed to get certified for it. The process up to that point had already been extremely lengthy. According to its own information, Check 24 invested millions in the comparison site. Then at some point the company met all state requirements, as confirmed by the certification body, Tüv Saar. But the Federation of German Consumer Organizations sued and managed to turn the site off again. The main criticism:The banks included in the comparison did not cover the market enough. In addition, not all account models from every bank are included, but often only one that is not representative, which greatly affects the comparison.

When the site was switched off, it was unclear what the federal government wanted to offer instead - after all, the EU provided a binding comparison site for each country.

Without further ado, the account comparison page of the publicly funded Stiftung Warentest was activated for all users free of charge.

The head of the comparison portal Verivox recently criticized a solution in the FAZ that was anything but perfect: the market coverage for which the consumer advice centers had sued the Check 24 website is now even lower at Stiftung Warentest.

Now there are significantly fewer than 400 different offers - previously there were more than 600.

Stiftung Warentest is defending itself. "We picked out 150 banks according to size, type of institution and regional distribution and show all account models there," said a spokeswoman. That is not a complete overview of the market. But for most customers, only the regional Sparkasse or Volksbank and supraregional institutes would be considered anyway. "If someone lives in a small town, they have to get the price overview from their local savings bank as well as the Volks- or Raiffeisenbank themselves, and we can find all national institutes," said the spokeswoman. The larger the city in which someone lives, the greater the probability that all institutes are included in the comparison for the customer.Check 24, on the other hand, only considered voluntary reports from the banks in its selection - and only one account model at a time.

Dorothea Mohn, from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations, says: “It is clear to everyone that the comparison of accounts from Stiftung Warentest is only an interim solution that was made available ad hoc free of charge.” At least “an absolute vacuum in this area” was averted after the “inadequate statutory comparison page” had been switched off by Check 24 itself.

Another solution that Scholz had initiated failed again - because of the Union.

"In my opinion, a good solution would have been to locate the comparison site at BaFin," says Mohn.

“That was suggested by the BMF, but the draft law failed in Parliament because of the Union.” Mohn says: “The BaFin would have had the necessary infrastructure to offer a complete market overview of all account data in Germany - the supervisory authority would have the corresponding with manageable additional effort To be able to prepare data for a comprehensive comparison of the accounts on the Internet. "

Of course, that would have basically meant saying goodbye to the regulatory idea of ​​having private companies compile the account comparison according to state requirements - in favor of a purely state platform.

The consumer advice centers think that after the election it may be easier to agree on a good current account comparison in a new constellation. “A permanent solution that complies with EU guidelines must achieve a sufficiently high level of market coverage,” demands consumer advocate Mohn. All the important banks that offer current accounts for private individuals should be included: "Of course, all relevant account models per bank must be included in the comparison - that was not the case with Check 24."