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JBA supports customer awareness on fees, charges

Published:Tuesday | January 21, 2014 | 3:52 PM

The Jamaica Bankers Association (JBA) said that based on a survey conducted by the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), fee income, excluding those for loan processing, now accounts for a larger percentage of total revenue of commercial banks.

However, it said commercial banks’ fee income in relation to overhead expenses has remained relatively stable over the past five calendar years.

“This is due primarily to the fact that banking fees and charges are based on the operating costs incurred in delivering banking services through that particular channel,” the JBA said.

“For example, services provided in a banking hall may incur a higher cost due to security, staffing, energy and overall maintenance costs associated with the physical building, while electronic services (internet banking and ABMs) will generally have lower fees as the cost of providing those services is usually less,” it added.

The JBA was responding to an interim report submitted to Parliament’s economy and production committee last week on a survey of fees and charges of deposit-taking institutions.

In a release earlier today, the JBA said that based on the competitive nature of the financial sector, Jamaicans have a variety of options and service providers from which to choose that which best suits their financial needs.

These include low cost products and service options, it said. “By having choices, consumers therefore have some degree of control over the fees which they pay for services.”

The release quoted JBA President, Maureen Hayden-Cater as saying “that as an industry we have to do a better job about educating our customers on their options. We recognize the need for a more robust public education campaign to further educate persons on the various options that are available to them, and are currently exploring other appropriate channels that can be used to ensure that consumers feel empowered whenever they make financial decisions.”

The JBA said it has signed its Code of Conduct for Banking Services which signals that the industry is committed to ensuring ongoing customer awareness on bank fees and charges by making available brochures on fees and charges in branches, posting information on the banks’ websites, and through interaction with their customer service representatives.

“All commercial banks have signed the JBA’s Code of Conduct which is located on the websites of each member bank and the JBA. The Code emphasizes the importance of transparency and disclosure to its customers regarding fees, rates and terms,” it said.

“The JBA is committed to a competitive, free market environment and the maintenance of a safe and healthy financial system,” it added.

The Association said it supports and contributes to meaningful measures of raising customer awareness and therefore welcomes the BOJ’s survey, and the opportunity it presents for customers to be empowered with additional information.