Banks welcome more competition

Banks on Tuesday welcomed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s decision to make the banking sector more competitive through transparency.

“Nedbank believes that consumers benefit from healthy and fair competition,” the bank said following a meeting with the minister on Monday.

Absa said it was committed to ensuring that the Code of Banking Practice was of maximum benefit to consumers and that the content of the code was being revised and updated in order to include all relevant topics for consumers such as a proposal for a code to include a consumer bill of rights.

Standard Bank said the meeting with Gordhan was the culmination of many years of detailed research on local market conditions, consumer behaviour and international trends and best practice.

“Standard Bank actively participated in the Banking Enquiry Panel and has supported the overwhelming majority of the Jali Committee findings and recommendations,” the bank said.

‘Committed to the proces’
Gordhan had a meeting with the chief executives and chairmen of South Africa’s major banks on Monday afternoon, where he called for absolute transparency in banking institutions to “unburden” South Africans.

Absa said it was committed to the process.

“We are already participating in a review of obstacles to ensure the smooth switching of debit order and salary credit switching, as well as endeavouring to reduce the Fica burden on new customers.”

It said it was also exploring additional means to empower customers in relation to debit orders.

Absa it had been liaising closely with the Competition Commission and the National Treasury since the publication of the recommendations in June 2008 to ensure that the recommendations as a whole are implemented as soon as possible.

Banks coming to the party
Nedbank said one of the issues of concern during the meeting with Gordhan was the inquiry into banking fees.

“It is within this spirit that the bank participated in a cooperative and open manner in the Competition Commission Banking enquiry process since August 2006 ... Nedbank welcomes and supports the proposals.”

Standard Bank’s CEO Peter Schlebusch said the bank’s participation in the inquiry was an invaluable process.

“Customers now have a better understanding of the products that banks offer, the services and fees associated with them and the alternatives that are available,” said Schlebusch.

“As a bank, the enquiry assisted us in continuing to connect with our customers, their needs and demands, and some of shortcomings in addressing these.

‘Constructive process’
FirstRand Bank group also acknowledged the process as “constructive”.

“Our engagements with government in this regard have been collaborative and positive, and we thank the National Treasury for the constructive manner in which the process of agreeing a response to the inquiry recommendations have been facilitated,” said First National Bank CEO Michael Jordaan.

He said FNB had reduced debit order penalty fees significantly for mainstream market customers.

The bank said that although it had made proposals to the Banking Enquiry for different ATM pricing models, it also supported any initiatives aimed at greater pricing transparency.—Sapa

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