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From 1 July 2022, all companies, regardless of their size, must be able to offer their private customers (consumers) at least one electronic payment system.
What Does this Obligation Entail?
From 1 July 2022, Belgian legislation requires that all consumer-facing companies, big or small, must provide their customers with at least one solution that allows them to pay for their purchases electronically.
This solution cannot under any circumstances replace cash payments, which must always be accepted but it supplements them.
To do this, all the technical solutions currently available on the market can be used:
- fixed or portable payment terminals,
- contactless payments by smartphone or smartwatch,
Companies are free to choose the technology that suits them best, depending on their economic situation and the nature of their clientele.
It is not allowed to charge additional costs to customers who opt for electronic payments or to refuse an electronic payment below a certain amount. Businesses can, however, vary electronic payment methods according to the amount, but this must be clearly visible to consumers (e.g. with a poster).
Please note: payments made with meal vouchers, eco-cheques or consumer vouchers are not considered electronic payments, even when made with a card. The same applies to payments in cryptocurrencies and other virtual currencies.
Which Companies Are Affected?
All companies (within the meaning of Book VI of the Code of Economic Law) are subject to the obligation to offer their customers an electronic means of payment.
The term “company” is understood as all natural persons or legal entities pursuing an economic aim on a long-term basis, including their associations (Art. 1.8, 39° of the Code of Economic Law).
This means that not only companies, within the usual sense of the term, are affected, whatever their size, but also the liberal professions and all persons, administrations, associations, etc. which carry out long-term economic activities in relation to consumers, such as the management of a swimming pool, a library or a cultural centre.
Why This New Requirement?
Consumers are increasingly using electronic payment methods to pay for their purchases. This has benefits for both consumers and traders (see below). It is therefore important to let them choose how they wish to pay.
This new requirement is also part of the fight against tax fraud.
What Are the Benefits of Electronic Payments for Companies?
Electronic payments are more convenient than cash payments and can save businesses money and time:
- easy to use: time and money are saved, thanks to quick and easy transactions
- more security: thefts and counterfeit notes are avoided
- simplified management: transactions are automatically traced, which reduces financial and administrative management for the company
- lower costs: managing cash represents a high (hidden) cost for companies. An alternative payment solution tailored to the situation and the customer saves time and money
- widespread use: most customers regularly use electronic means of payment. Offering them an alternative to cash gives them more freedom and may attract more customers.
See also the page What are the benefits of electronic means of payment for traders?
What About Cash Payments?
Cash payments cannot be refused under any circumstances. They remain valid!
When using cash, the rules in effect since 1 December 2019 for rounding the total amount of the cash receipt apply (see our page about “Rounding Cash Payments”).
For the record, 1 and 2 cent coins remain legal means of payment and cannot be refused as long as they are used in reasonable quantities (maximum 50 coins per payment).
It is not allowed to charge additional costs to customers who opt for electronic payments or to refuse an electronic payment below a certain amount.
How to Set Up Your Electronic Payment System in 3 Steps
Follow these 3 steps to provide your customers with an electronic payment system that meets their needs and yours:
- Compare the technical solutions available and choose the one that best suits your business and your type of customer.
- Find out the costs associated with this technical solution.
- Compare and choose your supplier/provider.
Which Electronic Payment System Should I Choose?
The economic reality varies from one company to another. And the technical solutions available on the market are varied and constantly evolving. It is therefore irrelevant to recommend one electronic payment system over another.
Generally speaking, we can classify electronic payment systems into two main categories.
- Systems using a fixed or mobile payment terminal
Customers pay with a debit card (Bancontact, Maestro, VISA debit, MasterCard Debit, etc.) or a credit card (VisaCredit , MasterCard Credit, etc.). Some terminals also accept meal vouchers and gift certificates.
You can choose between different types of terminals. Your choice will be guided by your needs (mobile device, type of connection via telephone line, via Wi-Fi or 4G connection, complete invoice management, etc.). Moreover, the costs (purchase/rental of the terminal, maintenance, etc.) vary greatly from one technical solution to another. It is advisable to be well informed, compare and capitalise on the competition.
Note: the mobile terminal is preferable for the catering sector.
- Systems using a payment application
They allow you to pay easily via a QR code. Everything is done via smartphone or computer by linking your bank account to the app. You only pay the cost per transaction and you don't have to pay for a subscription or buy a terminal.
In order to choose between a payment system by card, smartphone or smartwatch, by online store, transfer or direct debit, etc. or, more generally, by online banking service, we advise you to contact your bank. You can also read the information provided on the Internet by the various suppliers of technical electronic payment solutions.
Febelfin, the federation representing nearly 245 Belgian financial institutions, has a dossier on its website dedicated to electronic payment instruments for businesses. Reading this file will give you an idea of the solutions available on the market, how they work, and the costs associated with each of them.
Do You Have Further Questions?
If you have any questions about the legal obligation for companies to offer electronic payment to their customers, please contact the Contact Centre of the FPS Economy.