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Holders of only about half of the accounts with overdraft provisions at the country's five largest banks had reached credit agreements regarding new banking rules, the Bank of Israel said Sunday.
By the end of January, an additional 20 percent of cases had seen the commercial bank unilaterally set a limited credit line for the customer, while 27% of accounts had no arrangement, the central bank said, as it lamented the "insufficient progress ... made in the process of adaptation and internalization of credit management."
Banks Supervisor Yoav Lehman called on the banks and their customers to "speed up the process and to come to proper credit agreements."
"The terms customers will receive when under pressure of time are likely to be less favorable than those they can obtain if they prepare themselves in advance and after due consideration," Lehman said.
He added that it is important that customers examine the various offers made by the banks - in particular those making special offers to customers considering moving their accounts to them - compare prices, and negotiate with the banks, in order to choose the best offer in terms of credit lines and loans to repay the overdraft.
There are "great differences" between the banks in the rate at which they are implementing the directive to bring overdrafts in line, with the proportion of accounts not yet subject to credit agreements varying from 8% in one bank to 70% in another, the Bank of Israel noted, without providing further details.
In January, a directive came into effect requiring the banks to agree with each of their customers on a credit arrangement, which would be incorporated into an agreement appropriate to the customer's needs, repayment ability and collateral.
The agreement, to be signed by the customer and the bank, details the obligation of the two parties to operate only within the agreed framework, and not to exceed the limit.
At the end of December, an extension of six months was granted from the original January 1 implementation date because many accounts were still without credit arrangements. During the grace period, banks could still to permit deviations from the framework including excessive overdrafts, the central bank noted.
Lehman said it was "highly important that the banking system take all steps to implement the directive," and he expected that by July 1, when the extension expires, "there should be no more accounts exceeding their credit limits (except for those defined as problem accounts)."
Of the nearly 5 million bank accounts in Israel's five leading banks, just over 3.3 million current accounts and overdraft facilities require the establishment of the new credit limit - 2.9 million private accounts and 403,000 business clients - including accounts in which clients are permitted to go into overdraft, even if they do not actually do so, the central bank noted.
Of the business accounts, 71% had reached an agreed credit agreement with the bank, 2% were subject to unilateral credit lines set by the bank, and 27% had no arrangement.
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