From July 1, bank customers suddenly found themselves at the receiving end of transactional charges, as banks claim the three-month relaxation window has ended. This is despite the fact that the pandemic shows no signs of receding and lockdown is still imposed in many parts of the country.
The relaxation window came as a relief to millions of geographically challenged customers who were free to make withdrawals from any banks within a 2 km radius, without having to worry about charges levied for transactions. Speaking to DT Next, Jagadamba Nair, a senior citizen and a retired pensioner under a self-imposed exile at home said, “My grandson is usually the one to withdraw cash for fortnightly expenses at home. As we live in a containment zone, we find it hard to withdraw money from an own-bank ATM. Also, many vendors selling vegetables and essentials have still not opted for cashless transactions. We end up spending almost all the cash on provisions and daily requirements. It might sound like Rs 200 is a meagre amount, but for a middle-income family, it implies vegetable supplies for a whole week. The worst part is we were not even intimated when these transaction charges would be resumed.”
At present, the SBI charges anywhere between Rs 10 and Rs 20 (plus GST) for any financial transaction beyond the set limits. The number of free transactions depends on the average monthly balances maintained by the customers.
When asked about charges being levied again, the spokesperson at Indian Bank said, “Based on the RBI guidelines, Indian Bank is providing customers with a limit of three free transactions in other Bank ATMs in metros and five free transactions in other bank ATMs outside metros. Once the limit exceeds, customers would be charged as per RBI rates.”
According to industry experts, the economic fallout of the pandemic may last at least for next two years. And it seems only imperative that financial institutions absorb this system shock for now and offer leeway to the customers. Veteran banker-turned consultant V Ravichandran, Alive Consulting, said, “Banks must consider giving customers a break for at least one more year on maintenance of minimum balance and subsequent withdrawal charges.”