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Basic banking at tabacs is taking off

Simple bank accounts could be all that holiday home owners need to have in France

The simple Compte Nickel bank account which can be opened at a tabac is proving popular – and may be ideal for second home owners or students spending a year in France as it offers basic banking services but with minimal charges.

Launched in 2014 there are now more than 400,000 accounts at almost 2,000 tabacs, with another 100 a month joining the network.

Accessibility is part of the ethos – the idea being that even small villages have a tabac – and ultimately the firm hopes all 25,000 tabacs in France will offer accounts; however only 13% do so currently meaning you may have to travel to open one. Those who are in the scheme can be found at compte-nickel.fr via the tabac sign.

“Tabac owners want to offer something different because it’s a trade that has been suffering,” a company spokeswoman said.

Anyone can open an account using an ID card or passport and mobile phone number, and there is a young person’s one for ages 12-18. You need a French address (they do not at present anticipate problems for account holders in the event of Brexit but currently only Europeans may open one).

The account comes with a Visa debit card and you cannot go overdrawn. You can use internet banking and/or call into a tabac to make deposits and withdrawls. On children’s accounts the internet interface allows parents to also monitor activity and set ceilings on deposits and withdrawals.

Another similar option is Anytime (anyti.me), which also offers a debit card but is opened and managed entirely over the internet and has to be topped up with transfers from another account. Opening it requires a scan or photograph of your ID and proof of address such as a utility bill.

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