• Banks do not want your savings (for now), but your payroll: entities offer up to 400 euros to attract customers
  • Accounts and deposits Small and digital banks wage the last 'battle' for savings

The battle for the customer rises in level among the smaller entities while the big banks continue to delay the moment of remunerating the savings of individuals. The latest market movement has been led by EBN Banco, which on Wednesday announced an increase in the remuneration offered to its customers for the savings account up to 3% APR, from 1.25% previously. The new offer will begin to be applied on October 1, but it already heats up the competition that exists in a banking sector, which is made up of smaller and digital entities, to reward savings to add new customers.

"In the current context, many investors may not have defined their investment strategy and, while they decide, they can get a return on their money," said the director of Strategy of EBN Banco, Manuel Puente Gascón, in an informative note released on Wednesday.

EBN Banco's remunerated account is aimed at new and current clients. The profitability is obtained from the first 1,000 euros, although it is not activated until you have 3,000 euros deposited. The maximum to be remunerated is 10,000 euros; for the amount that exceeds that figure and up to 50,000 euros, the interest to be applied will be 1.5% APR.

On the other hand, the entity also expects to capture liabilities through term deposits. In this sense, it has raised the profitability of 18-month deposits to 3.50% APR, half a point more. The rest of the remunerations offered remain unchanged.

EBN Banco's announcement is the latest among the smaller entities with an eminently digital profile that in recent months have been especially active in the remuneration of savings in their particular competition to attract new customers and deposits. Each movement provokes the almost immediate reaction of the rest of the competitors. This happened just a few days ago when ING announced a return of 2.75% APR to four months for its customers and for new ones who make income until September 30. Not even 24 hours did it take one of its main rivals, the neobank MyInvestor, to react and put on the table an increase in the remuneration of its three-month deposit to 2.9% APR, from 2.75% previously.

It is the closest thing to a war for liabilities that can be found at this point in the Spanish financial market. The so-called traditional banks are reluctant to move despite the rate hikes that the European Central Bank (ECB) began in July last year. The huge amount of liquidity accumulated in their balance sheets during the period of monetary expansion and the credit crunch mean that, for the time being, these large entities do not feel the need to remunerate the money of their retail clients. Not even at the insistence of the Government and its first vice president, Nadia Calviño, or at the warning of the president of Competition (CNMC), Cani Fernández.

Average remuneration

Only CaixaBank has dared in recent weeks to put on the table a new one-year deposit that offers up to 2% profitability from 5,000 euros. Until now, for similar returns, large banks demanded amounts of no less than 50,000 euros, while CaixaBank's new proposal is aimed at all types of private savers from 5,000 euros and without a maximum limit.

The fine print of the proposal indicates that it starts from a fixed interest rate (1%) and an additional subsidized interest, which rewards with up to 1% plus the relationship of customers. To obtain this additional 1%, the payroll or pension domiciled has a bonus of 0.5% and if any of the holders of the deposit has or takes out insurance, they will also have a bonus of 0.25% for each one, up to the final 2%. A "very lukewarm" proposal in the eyes of market sources consulted at the time by this newspaper.

And the key is precisely in that small print that accompanies many of the remuneration proposals that are in the market. In most cases, to achieve the maximum possible remuneration it is necessary to assume the links and demands that entail it. Despite this, the average rate offered by banks in Spain stands at 2.4%, below the average 2.83% in Europe and quite far from the 3.5% registered by France or 3.3% in Italy, according to ECB data.

That is why to find higher remunerations, Spanish savers would have to resort to the offer of regional banks, such as the Italian Banca Sistema, which offers a deposit at 4.4% APR to one year, according to information from the financial comparator HelpMyCash, or Haitong Bank, of Portuguese origin, which offers 4.1% APR to one year. In addition, none impose additional requirements.