Banks agree to cut charges

By Staff Writer
Some more good news for South Africans emerged on Tuesday night after some of the big dog banks agreed to cut some of their retail banking fees.

This follows a request by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan earlier in the day after his meeting with the CEOs of banks.

"Fees charged must be lower than they are, whether for low-income or high-income accounts. Debit order cancellations must be made easy for people. Banks should detail ATM charges and be transparent on how much is exactly involved.

"If you wish to switch from one bank to another, all the factors that make this switching difficult must be made easy - these are the key changes," said Gordhan.

The cutting of these fees could hurt profits from lenders like Standard Bank, Absa, FirstRand Bank and Nedbank. All of these banks agreed to lower their penalty fees on dishonoured debit charges and to increase transparency on ATM fees and charges.

Gordhan believes that this will help "consumers get easier access to banking facilities and services (and) that they are getting cheaper services"
Standard Bank, the biggest bank in South Africa based on assets, said that they had already made some changes in line with these recommendations.

The dispute over high bank charges in South Africa is nothing new, back in 2008 the anti competition watchdog issued a report stating that retail bank fees were too high and asked for these fees to be cut.

Consumers have long been angered by the high fees and with the country just emerging out of a recession, the lower bank charges is very good news and a step in the right direction for more competitiveness by the country's banks

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