Banks to stop charging non-online repayment fees

The fees charged was intended to encourage customers to use online banking platforms

by NG MIN SHEN/ pic by TMR GRAPHIC

MALAYSIAN banks will stop charging fees for credit card and loan repayments transacted at bank branches and cash deposit machines (CDMs), following consumer backlash over the high fees charged.

“The Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM) would like to announce that our member banks will now cease charging fees for cheque and cash payments for credit card and financing repayments over the counter and at CDMs,” ABM said in a statement yesterday.

This announcement came just a day after the ABM defended the fees charged, adding that the move was intended to encourage customers to use online banking platforms.

Currently, disabled persons and senior citizens are already waived from these charges, while walk-in customers may conduct banking transactions and obtain services via automated teller machines for free.

“Our member banks will be communicating with their customers via their respective communication touchpoints (including the banks’ websites) and are ready to assist their customers to familiarise themselves with these alternative channels or on any queries they may have in relation to this matter,” ABM said.

The association has 26 members comprising commercial banks currently operating in the country.

Earlier this week, a recording of a conversation between a customer and a bank teller was circulated on social media, depicting the customer expressing frustration at the RM2 fee levied on every counter transaction, while online services were constantly down or not available to the people.

At the time, banks were charging RM2 for credit card and loan payments made over the counter with cash or cheques, and 50 sen for credit card and financing payments made using cash or CDMs.

The National Union of Bank Employees said the practice was unfair to the poor, disabled and those living in rural areas, as they would not have access to online banking. The union has raised the matter with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to no avail, it added.

The Consumers Association of Penang also said its complaints to the central bank were ignored, adding that this indicated “tacit approval of banks profiting from their customers in this way”.

Following the outrage, ABM issued a statement saying some of its member banks were imposing fees for cheque and cash payments transacted over the counter and via CDMs, in order to “encourage customers to move from cash to e-payments”.

It was reported that the banks charging these fees included Affin Bank Bhd, CIMB Bank Bhd, Public Bank Bhd and Standard Chartered Bank Malaysia Bhd, while AmBank (M) Bhd and Malayan Banking Bhd had reportedly said they would charge the fees beginning Oct 1.

It is not clear if local banks are permitted by BNM to charge extra fees on conventional banking transactions. The central bank has yet to issue a statement on the matter.