Newsagents in Belgium are increasingly becoming redundant as the sale of magazines and newspapers drop, however, via a subsidiary of the French bank BNP Paribas, "Nickel," they will be given a new purpose.
One newsagent in Dilbeek in Flemish Brabant has become the first to open a basic banking service point, where a person can open a bank account in a matter of minutes and walk out with a bank card.
This model was first launched in France and later in Spain, where Nickel claims to have a total of 2.6 million customers.
The company aims to have 1,400 points of sale and 300,000 customers in Belgium within five years, the CEO of Nickel Belgium, Emmanuel Legras, said at the launch. Its offer begins from €20 per year, which he argues is "much cheaper than other banks."
The services offered by Nickel are as secure as those carried out by traditional banks, as the identity of the customer is checked three times when opening the account, and customers' money is secured on an account of BNP Paribas Fortis.
Launched as banks close doors
Nickel works together with newsagents as in many smaller municipalities it is one of the few surviving shops left, and because they usually have longer opening hours.
Money can also be taken out in newsagents, which can be helpful for clients at a time when there are fewer and fewer bank branches and ATMs, or when their opening hours are limited.
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In Belgium, it will work together with both Dutch-speaking and francophone associations for newsagents, Perstablo and Prodipresse, to offer its services in as many newsagents as possible.
"Newsagents are under pressure because sales of, for example, newspapers and magazines are falling," Perstablo Chair Yannick Gyssens told Belga News Agency.
"We have to look out for diversification in the offer, and Nickel is an example of that." The operators offering the service receive a commission per transaction.