PostFinance, the banking arm of the state-run Post Office, will not have to offer the same services to the Swiss living abroad as to their compatriots in Switzerland. The parliamentary decision is another blow to Swiss expatriates who have seen banking services from their home country diminish in recent years.
The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA)external link, which represents more than 750,000 Swiss who live in a variety of countries, said it was “disappointed” by the Senate vote on Wednesday.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, and resultant tightening of anti-tax evasion rules, most Swiss banks have either closed the accounts of Swiss citizens living abroad or imposed prohibitively high costs.
“Swiss nationals abroad have had difficulties maintaining their banking relations in Switzerland on reasonable terms,” OSA said in a statement. “Our compatriots are increasingly moving abroad for professional reasons and for short periods, which makes it all the more necessary to keep a bank account in Switzerland.”
Swiss bank accounts are important to receive Swiss pension payments, make social security payments and manage assets held in Switzerland, OSA added.
PostFinance has already stopped providing credit cards to Swiss clients who live abroad and terminated securities accounts for such customers. The parliamentary motion demanded that PostFinance should be obliged to provide equal services to all Swiss citizens, regardless of where they live.
But the motion was turned down by 30 votes to nine on Wednesday after parliamentarians argued that this obligation would put PostFinance at a competitive disadvantage to other Swiss banks.
The government had also spoken against the motion.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives threw out demands for the federal authorities to publish data on bank expenses, interest rates and other offersexternal link on the websites of the foreign ministry and Switzerland’s diplomatic representations abroad.