A credit intermediary is a person or company authorised to enter into consumer credit agreements in return for money, as part of the intermediary's commercial, industrial, artisanal or professional activities. Credit intermediaries can offer their services either as a main activity or on an ancillary basis (e.g. the car retailer).
Credit intermediaries must hold all the ministerial authorisations required: by the Minister of Finance if they work in the financial sector; by the Minister of the Economy if they primarily work in the commercial or craft sector and only act as a credit intermediary on an ancillary basis.
In addition, the credit intermediary must make sure to be listed on the list held by the Ministry of Consumer Protection by completing their registration form. The form must be duly completed, signed and submitted together with copies of supporting documents (the identity card for natural persons, the agreement with the lender and the credit intermediary, where applicable). The registration form must contain all information pertaining to the lender's identity on behalf of whom the credit intermediary acts or with whom they are collaborating as well as the lender's geographical address.
In the event where the intermediary collaborates with another credit intermediary, they also have to indicate in the registration form the identity and geographical address of the other credit intermediary with whom they work.
A credit intermediary is not the actual lender, but they can:
- present or offer a loan agreement to the consumer; or
- assist consumers by preparing loan agreements other than those referred to above; or
- conclude loan agreements with consumers on behalf of the lender.
Credit intermediaries are subject to the same rules as the lender in the event where they are concluding the loan agreement directly with the consumer:
- provision of pre-contractual information;
- provision of explanations which must enable the consumer to determine if the loan agreement is adapted to their needs and financial situation;
- inform consumers about the consequences of payment default, etc.
There are specific obligations for credit intermediaries:
- they must indicate, in all advertising and information material for consumers, the extent of their powers and namely if they work with a single or several lenders or if they act as an independent broker. These elements must be stated in a clear, concise and visible manner;
- standard information to be included in advertising:
- the borrowing rate and type of interest rate (fixed/variable), and the charges included in the total cost of the credit;
- the total amount of credit;
- APR - annual percentage rage;
- the duration of the contract;
- in the case of a contract with deferred payment: the cash price and the amount of any advance payment;
- the total amount payable;
- the amount of the instalments;
- they must inform consumers about possible charges for these services. These charges are agreed upon between the consumer and the credit intermediary and are stated on paper or any other durable medium.
However, sellers or service providers who act only as incidental credit intermediaries are not required to provide all this precontractual information to the consumer.
In this case, it is the lender who must provide the information to the consumer. The lender either provides the information personally or enters into an agreement with the credit intermediary to provide the information to the consumer, to ensure the consumer always receives the necessary information.