The CNB launches webpage for bureau-de-change clients

An amendment to the Act on Bureau-de-Change Activity strengthening the position of consumers takes effect on 1 April 2019. The most visible change is that clients will have the right to cancel a bureau-de-change transaction within three hours of its execution. Bureau-de-change clients will now also be informed on their exchange slip of a CNB webpage on bureaux de change which the CNB is launching specifically for this purpose.

“The greatest benefit of the amendment, in my view, is that it makes bureau-de-change transactions more transparent. I believe changing money will now be as simple as refuelling your car at a petrol station. In addition, bureau-de-change clients will find full information about their rights on a new CNB webpage, whose address will be given on each exchange transaction slip,” says CNB Vice-Governor Tomáš Nidetzký.

The most important changes brought by the amendment to the Act on Bureau-de-Change Activity:

  • The introduction of the right of the client to cancel a bureau-de-change transaction and any ancillary services within three hours of its execution.
  • The introduction of a duty to inform potential clients of the possibility of cancelling transactions by means of the exchange rate list and the exchange slip and by disclosing the CNB webpage on the slip.
  • A prohibition of publishing specific VIP rates (more advantageous exchange rates) in bureaux de change.
  • A prohibition of charging commissions (the commission must be included in the exchange rate), with the exception of the exchange of coins and cheques, for example.
  • The abolition of pre-contractual information for transactions of up to €1,000.

These measures have been introduced to rectify the situations where the exchange rate and the commission were unclear and the client was misled and often forced to purchase goods (such as maps and guides) at a high price as part of the exchange transaction, a practice known as tying.

The CNB as a supervisory authority conducts dozens of inspections in bureaux de change every year and imposes penalties if it finds that the law has been breached. However, such after-the-fact action cannot directly protect clients when transactions are being negotiated and executed in bureaux de change. Based on its supervisory findings and examinations, the CNB concluded that the law needed to be changed to strengthen the position of clients and bolster their protection “on-site”, i.e. when changing money. It therefore drafted an amendment to the Act on Bureau-de-Change Activity and submitted it to the Ministry of Finance in December 2016. The amendment was passed by the Czech parliament last year and signed by the President in December 2018. It will take effect on 1 April 2019.

“People shouldn’t forget, though, that even the most detailed legislation and the most intensive supervision cannot substitute fully for cautious behaviour by clients. Under the new amendment, it will be important for bureau-de-change clients to pay sufficient attention to all the information given on the exchange rate list and the exchange slip and, if they are unhappy, to assert their right to cancel the transaction without delay,” adds Tomáš Nidetzký.

The CNB does not neglect to inform the public and enhance financial literacy in this respect. Rules for successfully changing money are set out in the Ten Golden Rules for Bureau-de-Change Clients, and a useful calculator containing the exchange rates declared by the CNB is available in the Czech Money mobile app (available for iOS and Windows only).

Markéta Fišerová
Director of the Communications Division and CNB Spokesperson