Walter Muchinguri : Assistant Business Editor
Some banks are taking advantage of the cash shortages by maintaining high charges for withdrawals from banking halls despite the unavailability of cash in their automated teller machines. Ordinarily most depositors withdraw money from ATMs due to lower charges levied by banks on such transactions than in the banking halls where charges are a slightly higher.A survey of most banks show that ATM withdrawals are charged at between 0,5 to 1 percent of money being withdrawn, which translates to a minimum charge of $2,50 to $3 while charges for withdrawals within the banking halls range from 1 percent to about 3 percent of the money being withdrawn, which translates to a minimum charge of $3 to $6.
ATMs normally dispense a minimum of $2, $5 and $10 up to a maximum of $500, $1 000 and $2 000.
Since the re-emergence of cash shortages most ATMs have not been dispensing money while other cheap methods of withdrawals such as Zimswitch have been disabled resulting in depositors remaining with one option of withdrawing money from banking halls.
Some depositors who spoke to The Herald Business said banks were now taking advantage of the situation to increase their bottom line.
“This is not a normal situation because there is only one option that is available to us and that is withdrawing our money from the banking halls so why are the charges not being lowered.
“This is not a situation of our own making so why are the banks punishing us? The difference between the ATM and banking hall charges might appear to be minute at face value but because every depositor who wants to withdraw their money is going into the banking halls to do so the banks are making a killing,” said Mr Menard Ben.
Another depositor said that the banks are giving them frivolous excuses to explain their conduct.
“We are told that there is a fixed system of deducting charges for withdrawals within the banking halls but my question is who set up the system? Is it cast in stone?
“To my knowledge these systems are designed by people and can be tweaked to suit different conditions. Banks should be flexible especially if they are serious about building confidence in the banking system.
“They should only revert to levying different charges for ATM and banking hall withdraws once the situation normalises and people have an option to use one of the two,” said Mr Leroy Makona.
There has been widespread concern on the charges levied by banks on deposits and loans which most depositor’s feel are high.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has on several occasions engaged banks to lower their charges as part of rebuilding confidence in the banking sector.