Institutions

Types of institutions

Credit institutions are companies that receive deposits and other repayable funds from the public and grant credit for their own account.

While banks may practice all types of operations authorised to credit institutions, the remaining credit institutions may only carry out the activities and perform the operations permitted by the legal and regulatory rules that govern their activity.

Type of credit institution Activities
Bank

- Acceptance of deposits or other repayable funds

- Lending, including the granting of guarantees and other commitments, financial leasing and factoring

- Payment services

- Trading for own account or for account of customers in money market and foreign exchange instruments, financial futures and options, exchange and interest rates instruments, goods and transferable securities

- Participation in securities issues and placement and provision of related services

- Money broking

- Portfolio management and advice, safekeeping and administration of securities

- Portfolio management and advice in relation to other assets

- Advice to undertakings on capital structure, corporate strategy and related questions and advice as well as services relating to mergers and the purchase of undertakings

- Dealings in precious metals and stones

- Acquisition of holdings in companies

- Insurance mediation

- Credit reference services

- Safe custody services

- Leasing of movable property, under the terms authorised to financial leasing companies

- Provision of the investment services and investment activities referred to in Article 199-A of the Legal Framework of Credit institutions and Financial Companies, not covered by the preceding subparagraphs

- Issuance of electronic currency

- Other similar transactions not forbidden by law

Caixa económica (savings bank)

- Acceptance of deposits or other repayable funds

- Granting of loans guaranteed by pledge or mortgage

- Provision of collection services, cash transfers, rental of safes, real-estate administration, periodic payments and the like

- Execution of other operations, with the authorisation of Banco de Portugal

Caixa Económica Montepio Geral is authorised by Banco de Portugal to carry out all activities permitted to banks.

In addition to the activities legally allowed to savings banks, Caixa Económica da Misericórdia de Angra do Heroísmo is authorised by Banco de Portugal to: carry out lending, money broking, make commercial discounts, acquire government debt securities, shares, bonds and other equity or debt securities quoted in the national stock exchange or in stock exchanges of OECD countries, provide collection services, transfer funds, make periodic payments and the like on behalf of customers, safe custody services and purchase and sell foreign notes and coins or traveller’s cheques, on the terms permitted to the exchange offices.

Caixas de crédito agrícola mútuo (mutual agricultural credit banks) and Caixa Central de Crédito Agrícola Mútuo (Central Mutual Agricultural Credit Bank)

- Acceptance of deposits or other repayable funds

- Execution of agricultural credit operations in favour of members

- Safe custody services

- Real-estate management

- Insurance mediation

- Credit reference services Intermediation in payments and others of a similar nature

- Placement of securities provided that they are not linked to the subscription of any portion that is not subscribed by the public

- Purchase and sale of foreign notes and coins or traveller's cheques, under the terms permitted to the exchange offices

- Execution of other operations, with the authorisation of Banco de Portugal

The Central Mutual Agricultural Credit Bank is the central body of the integrated system of mutual agricultural credit (SICAM).

Credit financial institution

- All operations allowed to banks, except for the acceptance of deposits

Mortgage credit institution

- Granting, acquisition and sale of mortgage-backed credits on immovable property in order to issue mortgage bonds

- Granting, acquisition and sale of claims on central governments or regional and local authorities of one of the Member States of the European Union and credits with an express and legally binding guarantee from the same entities with a view to issuing public sector bonds

Financial companies are investment firms and financial institutions, with the exception of holding companies subject to the supervision of Banco de Portugal.

 

Investment firms include:

Type of investment firm Activities
Dealer

- Receipt and transmission of orders relating to one or more financial instruments

- Execution of orders on behalf of third parties

- Management of portfolios belonging to third parties

- Placing in public distribution offers

- Registration and deposit of securities

- Granting of credit, including the loan of securities, to carry out transactions in securities involving the dealer

- Consultancy for investment in securities, advice on capital structure, industrial strategy and related questions as well as on mergers and the purchase of undertakings

- Assistance in public offering related to securities

- Foreign exchange services and rental of safe-deposit boxes associated to the provision of investment services

Broker

- Receipt and transmission of orders relating to one or more financial instruments

- Execution of orders on behalf of third parties

- Management of portfolios belonging to third parties

- Placement in public distribution offers, without underwriting

- Registration and deposit of securities

- Investment advice on securities

Wealth management company

- Management of portfolios belonging to third parties

- Investment advice

Foreign-exchange or money-market mediating company

- Intermediation operations in the money market and in the foreign exchange market

- Provision of related services

 

Financial institutions include:

Type of financial institution Activities
Credit financial institution

- Execution of operations permitted to banks, with the exception of the acceptance of deposits or other repayable funds from the public and the provision of payment services and issuance of electronic money

Financial leasing company

- Conduct of financial leasing activities

- In addition, they may sell, dispose of their assets, lease or perform other administrative acts on assets that have been returned to them, as well as lease movable property outside the above conditions

Factoring company

- Acquisition of short-term credits resulting from the sale of products or services in the domestic and foreign markets

Mutual guarantee company

- Execution of financial operations

- Provision of related services for the benefit of small and medium enterprises and micro-enterprise

- Execution of financial operations and provision of related services for the benefit of other legal persons and natural persons, in particular students and researchers

Regional development company

- Promotion of productive investment in the area of the respective region and support to the economic and social development of the region, being able to hold shares in the capital of companies incorporated or to be incorporated, grant medium- and long-term credit to companies (for investment in fixed capital, reconstitution of working capital or consolidation of liabilities) and self-employed persons (for setting up in the area of the regional development company or for the modernisation or renovation of equipment)

Exchange office

- Purchase and sale of foreign notes and coins or traveller’s cheques

- In addition, they can buy gold and silver as well as coins for numismatic purposes

- They may carry out the activity of an agent of a payment or electronic money institution established in Portugal or in another Member State of the European Union, under the conditions established in the Legal Regime of Payments and Electronic Currency

Credit securitisation fund management company

- Execution of credit securitisation operations, through their acquisition, management and transfer and the issuance of securitised bonds for payment of credits acquired

Microcredit financial company

- Granting of credit of reduced amounts to private individuals and companies wishing to develop a particular economic activity

- Advice to borrowers and follow-up of the projects financed

Real-estate investment funds management company

- Management, on behalf of the participants, of one or more real-estate investment funds

- They can provide advisory services for real-estate investment and carry out the individual management of real-estate in accordance with legal and regulatory provisions applicable to the management of portfolios on behalf of others

Securities investment fund mangement company

- Management of collective investment undertakings authorised under the Legal Framework governing Collective Investment Undertakings, defined in special legislation

Payment institutions are entities authorised to provide and carry out payment services.

Payment services are considered to be the following, inter alia:

  • Services enabling cash to be placed on a payment account and cash withdrawals from a payment account as well as all the operations required for operating that account;

  • Execution of payment transactions, including transfer of funds, execution of direct debits and payment transactions through a payment card or similar device, regardless of whether the funds are covered by a credit line or not;

  • Issuing or acquiring of payment instruments;

  • Money remittance;

  • Execution of payment transactions where the customer’s order is given by means of any telecommunication, digital or IT device and payment is made to the telecommunication, IT system or network operator, acting only as an intermediary between the customer and the supplier of goods and services.

When authorised in another Member State of the European Union, payment institutions may provide payment services in Portugal:

  • through the opening of branches;

  • by contracting agents – natural or legal persons that provide payment services on behalf of a payment institution, which assumes liability for all acts performed by its agents;

  • through the free provision of services – without being established in Portugal.

In addition to payment institutions, payment services may also be provided by credit institutions, financial companies whose object comprises the exercise of this activity, in accordance with applicable legal and regulatory rules, electronic money institutions, CTT – Correios de Portugal, SA (the Portuguese Postal Service) and, when they act without powers of public authority, the State, the Autonomous Regions, the services and bodies of the State’s direct and indirect administration and Banco de Portugal.

Electronic money institutions are legal persons authorised to issue electronic money.

In addition, electronic money institutions may carry out the following activities:

  • Provision of payment services;

  • Granting of credit related to the provision of some payment services;

  • Provision of operational services and closely related ancillary services in respect of the issuing of electronic money or payment services, namely the provision of guarantees for the execution of payment transactions, foreign exchange services and services related to the safekeeping, storage and processing of data;

  • Operation of payment systems;

  • Professional activities other than issuance of electronic money, in accordance with the requirements applicable to these activities.

In addition to electronic money institutions, the following institutions may also issue electronic money: credit institutions, the State, the Autonomous Regions, the services and bodies of the State’s direct and indirect administration and Banco de Portugal.

When authorised in another Member State of the European Union, electronic money institutions may issue electronic money in Portugal:

  • through the opening of branches;

  • through distributors – natural or legal persons distribute and redeem electronic money on behalf of an electronic money institution and under their responsibility (representatives of electronic money institutions). Distributors may not issue electronic money;

  • by contracting agents (when providing payment services and only in respect of these services) – natural or legal persons that provide payment services on behalf of an electronic money institution, which assumes responsibility for all acts performed by its agents;

  • through the free provision of services – without being established in Portugal.

In order not to mislead the public as to the operations that an institution may carry out, only credit institutions and financial companies may include in their trade name or company name terms such as ‘bank’, ‘banker’, ‘credit’, ‘deposit’, ‘financial leasing’ and ‘factoring’. Only payment institutions and electronic money institutions may use the terms ‘payment institution’ and ‘electronic money institution’, respectively, and may include the corresponding designation in their trade name or company name and use it in the course of their activity.

 

Authorised institutions

Institutions authorised to carry on business in Portugal are included in the list of authorised institutions published by Banco de Portugal.

Banco de Portugal also publishes alerts on unauthorised practices of financial activity and entities that are not qualified to carry out this type of activity.

Authorised institutions

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Unauthorised activity

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Before contracting a financial product or service, bank customers must ensure that the institution is registered with Banco de Portugal and that it can carry out the activity in question.

  • Credit institutions, financial companies, payment institutions and electronic money institutions based in Portugal;

  • Branches of credit institutions, payment institutions and electronic money institutions based in European Union countries;

  • Branches of credit institutions and electronic money institutions based in third countries;

  • Credit institutions, payment institutions and electronic money institutions under the free provision of services (that is, without being established in Portugal);

  • Representation offices of credit institutions.

Only credit institutions may perform the activity of receiving from the public deposits or other repayable funds, for own account use.

Of the credit institutions, only banks, caixas económicas (savings banks), Caixa Central de Crédito Agrícola Mútuo (Central Mutual Agricultural Credit Bank) and caixas de crédito agrícola mútuo (mutual agricultural credit banks) are authorised to receive deposits from the public.

The following entities may also receive reimbursable funds:

  • State, including public funds and institutes with legal personality and administrative and financial autonomy;

  • Autonomous regions and local authorities;

  • European Investment Bank and other public international bodies of which Portugal is a member and whose legal framework provides for the possibility of receiving reimbursable funds from the public in Portugal;

  • Insurance companies, with respect to capitalisation operations.

Branches of credit institutions with head offices in European Union countries and institutions under the free provision of services may also receive deposits if they are authorised to do so.

Only credit institutions and certain financial companies may carry out credit operations on a professional basis, including the granting of guarantees and other commitments, financial leasing and factoring.

Payment institutions and electronic money institutions may grant credit only on an ancillary basis and for the execution of payment transactions.

 

Institutions supervised by Banco de Portugal

Banco de Portugal is responsible for the supervision of:

  • credit institutions, financial companies, payment institutions and electronic money institutions having their head office in Portugal;

  • branches of credit institutions, payment institutions and electronic money institutions having their head office in European Union countries;

  • branches of credit institutions and electronic money institutions having their head office in third countries.

Banco de Portugal does not supervise pawnshops (i.e. offering credit collateralised by goods – usually gold, silver or jewellery).

Banco de Portugal is not responsible for regulating, overseeing or sanctioning these entities, nor for analysing complaints regarding their operation.

 

Priority attendance

Credit institutions, financial companies, payment institutions and electronic money institutions that provide face-to-face services to the public are obliged to provide priority service to:

  • disabled or incapacitated persons (those who have specific difficulties that may limit their activity and participation on equal terms with others and who have a degree of incapacity equal to or greater than 60% recognised in a multipurpose certificate);

  • elderly people over the age of 65 and who have an obvious alteration or limitation of their physical or mental functions;

  • pregnant women;

  • persons accompanied by children under the age of two.

Persons denied priority service may request the presence of a police authority in order to overcome the situation and for the authority to take note of the incident and send it to Banco de Portugal. Alternatively, a complaint can be filed through the complaints book or directly with Banco de Portugal.