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Three in ten Belgians no longer have a problem with paying an invoice late. This is evident from the European Consumer Payment Report of 2023. According to the research, administrative nonchalance on the part of consumers in particular contributes to this shift in standards.
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Almost a quarter of respondents indicated that they had less insight into their short-term expenditure than last year. For example, a series of subscriptions takes a large bite out of the monthly budget of many households. Half of Belgians with payment arrears also say they regularly miss a payment.
The report is based on a European study in 24 countries by financial services provider Intrum. A total of 20,000 Europeans from 20 countries took part in the study, including 1,000 Belgians.
“Addicted to IV since corona”
According to Guy Colpaert, managing director of Intrum Benelux, something has fundamentally changed in the payment behavior of Belgian consumers since the corona crisis. “Consumers seem to have forgotten how to take responsibility for their own financial well-being, while they certainly contribute to the health of the Belgian economy,” says Colpaert. “We must ensure that Belgians do not become addicted to the infusion that governments and companies have provided since the corona outbreak.”
Furthermore, it appears that a third of Belgians expect that companies will not take action against consumers with payment arrears. Due to this shift in standards, companies now have to wait an average of 57 percent longer for a payment compared to last year.
For this increased laxity, Intrum points to the sharp increase in inflation, high interest rates and the fact that first reminders have recently become free. “The longer breaks introduced by this new law reduce the urgency for some debtors to meet payment obligations,” it said. “This could cause the payment gap among Belgian consumers to grow even further, putting companies that count on timely payments in particular at risk.”