On 6 December 2016, the Dutch Minister of Finance (the Minister) informed the Dutch Parliament on the results of an investigation conducted by the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (Autoriteit Financiële Markten, the AFM) into the mandatory credit warning (kredietwaarschuwing), which was introduced in April 2009 in order to, among other things, stimulate consumers to better think over their choice to borrow money and the possible consequences thereof.

The aim of the AFM’s investigation was to better understand how the credit warning has affected the behaviour of consumers in relation to, as well as their perception of, consumer credit in the short term. As part of its investigation, the AFM conducted an experiment using the online sales environment of a Dutch bank offering consumer credit. During a period of two months the AFM displayed different credit warnings in the online sales environment to see whether this would affect the behaviour of consumers (e.g. click behaviour and the choices made). In addition, the AFM interviewed scientists, debt and behavioural experts, consumers and credit providers and advisers and intermediaries on the credit warning.

The AFM has concluded that credit warnings have no short-term effect on the behaviour of consumers. In addition, the AFM believes that better awareness of the risks associated with consumer credit do not seem to lead to better choices. Although the AFM understands that the provision of information is a key element of a fair and transparent financial market, it believes that the credit warning in itself has insufficient influence on the behaviour of consumers. Therefore, the AFM has two recommendations:

  • the Minister should, besides raising awareness of consumers, consider alternative behavioural goals with regard to borrowing decisions of consumers; and
  • together with the AFM an investigation should be conducted into how such alternative behavioural goals can be achieved. When developing such goals, the AFM believes that the findings of this investigation should be taken into account.

The Minister has asked the AFM to further investigate the policy objectives of the credit warning and, if need be, recommend additional alternative measures which are necessary to achieve such objectives. The Minister will update the Dutch Parliament on this further investigation in spring 2017.

View the Minister’s letter (Dutch only), 6 December 2016.

View the results of the AFM’s investigation (Dutch only), December 2016.