It is about time we go on a campaign and get Bank of Ghana to STOP banks from this nonsense of service charges even when your money is left with next to nothing.
That policy is so dumb, lame and self-serving.
Here is the policy:
When your balance goes below a certain threshold, they say you DON’T QUALIFY for interest. But they still keep giving you the SMS service and keep charging their fees until the account is depleted.
Who does that – What dumb policy is that?
If you are innovative and customer-centric and not lazy and self-serving, no one will tell you that once you decide that the account balance does not qualify for interest, you should also SUSPEND the SMS service and stop charging so that the account will not go into the red.
But they will charge the SMS fee until the account balance go below the threshold where they stop giving you interest. Apparently, they are not smart enough to then stop the SMS service and then stop the charging, but they will charge you until you get into the red.
That is the laziest, dumbest and selfish policy ever.
BoG must STOP THAT NONSENSE!
We as a country are trying to get many more people banked. This dumb policy is counterproductive to that national agenda.
No matter how small your mobile money wallet balance is, telcos do not stop paying you interest. In fact they calculate your interest on DAILY BALANCE, not on additional cash. But banks keep fleecing us after coming to coax us to save with them. It is a traversy.
They work with third party agencies called Wireless Applications Service Providers (WASPs ) who stand between the banks and telcos and manage these SMS services for them. So when they charge, the bank gets its share, telco get their share (usually the lions share) and the WASP also gets its share.
It is the duty of the banks to give the WASP a list of those whose accounts have gone below the no-interest threshold so they stop sending the SMS to them and stop charging. But because that service adds to their revenue lines and ultimately to their bottom line, they leave the WASP to keep charging until your account is in the red then they call you and tell you nonsense.
ME AND ABSA
Absa Bank gives me two free opportunities to cash money at the ATM in a month. After the two, I will be charged for subsequent withdrawals.
I asked why the charge and I was told it is because my account is a SAVINGS ACCOUNT and they want to discourage me from spending my saving, which is a good thing.
So if the account has been savings all this while, how come I have never received a report of interest on my money and yet I get SMS twice a month telling me about their monthly deductions for that same SMS service. Does it even make sense?
So how are you claim to encourage me to save when you keep taking the money away, no matter how small the balance is?
Meanwhile, on my MTN mobile wallet, it does not matter how much is in the wallet, whether big or small amount, I will get my interest after every quarter. And MTN does not charge me for sending me MoMo-related messages.
This banking sector players have some twisted policies designed to suit them and ultimately shortchange the customers, really.
Another dumb thing is this their dormancy policy. When you don’t go and withdraw money from your account for a certain number of months, they declare your account dormant. In fact, even if money keeps going into your account throughout that the period, they will still declare the account dormant because the traffic was one way.
In that sense, the day you go there to withdraw cash, or even when you try to use your debit card to cash money at the ATM or even make a payment at the POS in a shop, you would be told to contact your bank because the system is not allowing you to take money out of the account.
Their excuse is that they want to be sure if you are the real owner of the account, so you need to go there and activate it.
Fair enough, but throughout the period when you did not make cash out, they keep debiting your account with their service charges, as your money also go into the account. If there are any standing orders on your accounts, like insurance premiums, loans servicing etc, all of them work fine over the period. But they do not consider those as ACTIVITY so they declare your account inactive until you go there and fill some forms and reactivate the account. How archaic, lame and irrelevant that policy is.
REMOTE ACCOUNT OPENING
Now some banks have learnt their lessons because the Mobile Money platforms and other FinTechs are putting fire under their bottom. Just a few days ago, one of the very old banks in the country, STANCHART, allowed me to open an account with them through their App.
The App is designed to take a selfie of you, snap a picture of your valid ID and even take a picture of your signature on a white sheet and upload to your in-App application. How cool is that?! Then a customer service person will call you and complete the process by taking you through a few more steps. That is fantastic. That App is the SC MOBILE in the Google Android PlayStore. I was refreshingly surprised. Maybe you should try it.
But lots of the banks still insist on you going to their office to fill manual forms and provide manual IDs before they can open a proper account for you. Rubbish, if your ask me. Ecobank Mobile is one of the most popular electronic banking Apps, but you can open an Xpress Account in-App, which allows you some benefits but not everything a “real” account holder gets. For instance, I tried to get someone in Nigeria to pay me via my highly-touted Ecobank Xpress Account but I was told because there is no real physical account behind the Xpress Account, I could not receive the transfer. Laughable. I don’t know if that has changed.
Mobile Money wallets today receive direct international transfers from all over the world instantly – in real time. But we are sitting here thinking of bank accounts as some bronze or brass box in some brick and mortar building somewhere. This is why over time, FinTech otherwise known as Neobanks, will become mainstream and the archaic traditional banks will rather become complimentary. I see that day coming in my minds eye. It is just like the traditional taxi drivers are stack in their old ways even though it is obvious that Uber and Bolt are using technology and in fact more comfortable and less expensive service to capture their market.
I will surely, surely make a report to Bank of Ghana on some of these issues.
I am done.