Hizkiyahu orders banks to cut fees for elderly and check deposits

This comes amidst complains from the public that many bank branches lacked the automated machines for depositing checks using direct services.

Rony Hizkiyahu 2 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Rony Hizkiyahu 2 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Facing continued pressure from Knesset members and consumer organizations, Supervisor of Banks Rony Hizkiyahu has started to take affirmative steps to make corrections to the new bank-fee reform. In an attempt to limit the impact it is having on the elderly population, Hizkiyahu announced Monday that elderly bank customers and those who have no access to direct-banking services will be entitled to four teller-service actions per month for the same cost as direct services. In a letter to the banks, Hizkiyahu gave guidelines to implement the instruction within 30 days. At the beginning of the month, Hizkiyahu said the central bank was continuously examining the fees charged by the banks and in cases where there is no competition or fees are unjustified it would make corrections and adjustments. The catch of the reform lies with customers who are unaware of, or have limited access to, direct services. Such customers, generally the elderly and the poor, are affected because they are charged higher fees for using basic banking services. Under the new bank tariffs, fees and commissions for checking accounts are cheaper for customers who use direct-banking services ranging from NIS 1.35 per operation to NIS 2.9, but more expensive for those who make their transactions via teller-assisted services. Teller-assisted services are charged a fee of between NIS 5.5 per operation to NIS 7. In addition, Hizkiyahu noted that complaints received from the public revealed that many bank branches lacked the automated machines and resources for depositing checks using direct services. For this reason, the fee charged for depositing a check using envelope-deposit drop terminals, which are akin to a teller-service charge, will be reduced to the fee of direct services from October 1 this year. Finally, according to the new instructions, banks will not be allowed to classify home committee [Va'ad Bayit] accounts as small business accounts, which are charged higher fees. Hizkiyahu said Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi and Israel Discount Bank have already reported that they have retracted from such practices. The central bank's move follows a draft bill by MK Amnon Cohen of Shas to limit bank fees for teller services and basic transactions to NIS 1.5, which was passed in a preliminary reading last week. Since the bank-fee reform came into effect on July 1, Knesset members and consumer organizations have been urging the Bank of Israel to bring bank fees under supervision, in particular to protect the elderly population. Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer vehemently rejected calls to bring bank fees under the central bank's supervision, saying the reform needed to be given a chance and time to succeed.