Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 11th 2017 Contents BG6 | NEWS
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt MAY 11 • 2017
Local bankers say if the regula-
tion of fees charged by banks
is introduced in T&T, careful
thought must be given to its
introduction in order to pre-
vent chaos from occurring in
the banking system.
In mid-February, Finance Minister Colm
Imbert said his ministry needed to explore
the possibility of the Central Bank of T&T
regulating all fees.
"These other fees and charges (fees and
charges on withdrawals, overdraft, credit
and debit card fees, ATM fees, monthly fees
on accounts), are not regulated by law at this
time. In other countries these fees are subject
to fair trading and unfair contract terms leg-
islation and disclosure provisions."
Imbert added, "This is what I spoke about
in the Senate (during the debate on the 2017
budget debate); whether we should change
the law to allow the Central Bank to regulate
all fees charged by commercial banks. It is a
matter that is being carefully studied at this
Speaking at a news conference held at the
Hyatt Regency hotel, Dock Road, Port-of-
Spain last Friday, Nigel Baptiste, managing
director of Republic Financial Holdings Ltd
(RBL), said any initiative that "distorts the
normal operation of a market cannot be a good
initiative because it will introduce into the
system imperfections and possibly obstacles
that were not there previously.
"I think it should be very well thought out
when you seek to introduce any sort of im-
Managing director of RBC Royal Bank T&T
Ltd, Darryl White, said the banking sector is
the most "highly regulated" industry that ex-
ists in T&T. He said, generally, regulation can
protect, facilitate or hamper a banking sys-
tem and that banking fees contribute between
seven and 11 per cent of the income of banks.
"We ask ourselves what is in the best interest
of the people and the citizenry, shareholders
and stakeholders of banks; that there is a vi-
brant competitive banking industry.
"When we start to look at regulation and we
start to widen the net, there are many things
we could be spending our time looking at, and
not operate as efficiently or as transparently
that will reap a lot more benefits in terms of
stronger regulations," he said.
The bankers plan to do more education
campaigns to educate the public about the
The introduction of exorbitant banking fees
has been generating a great deal of news cov-
erage recently. The bankers have assured that
the relationship between the banks and the
legislator is a "healthy" one. However, having
a healthy relationship, Baptiste said, does not
mean there is agreement on all issues.
"When there is additional disagreement
you put additional information into the public
domain and that's what we are trying to do."
Presenting the information to the public al-
lows for a healthy exchange of perspectives,
Baptiste added, and he hoped the healthy re-
lationship continues between the banks and
President of the Bankers Association of T&T
(BATT), Anya Schnoor, admitted the frontline
staff members who interact with the public
need to be further apprised of the schedule
of banking fees in order to inform the public.
The association prepared information which
it presented to members of the joint select
committee (JSC) on May 5.
According to that presentation, "T&T's av-
erage monthly fee for personal and savings
accounts averaged $22.50 and $8 respectively,
much lower than the average bank from Bar-
bados, Grenada, St Lucia and Jamaica."
See table of comparison of certain fees in
select countries (according to BATT's pres-
entation to JSC).
Looking at the number of credit cards in use,
the bankers said that in financial year 2012,
173,396 cards have been in use, compared to
financial year 2015 where 215,639 credit cards
are in use.
Regarding debit cards, 592,953 cards were in
use in financial year 2012 compared to 632,987
used in 2015 financial year.
This comes on the heels of seven business
groups calling on BATT to explain the bank
charges surrounding credit cards.
According to the presentation to JSC, a cus-
tomer satisfaction survey was commissioned
in 2015 by BATT. A total of 760 interviews
were conducted between November 24 and
December 8, 2015.
• For quality of service, the banks scored
87 per cent.
• For product and service variety the banks
scored 91 per cent.
• On the ease of access to credit the banks
scored 70 per cent and
• The ease of opening an account the banks
scored 77 per cent.
According to the survey: "Commercial
banks' customers are, in large part, satisfied
with the quality of service provided by banks.
At least, eight in 10 customers indicated they
were either somewhat or extremely satisfied
with their service experience."
Strategy for price
According to the presentation, banks say
the factors used in determining fees include:
increase in operating costs, marketing condi-
tions and competition, improved efficiencies
which may result in savings which are passed
to customers, customer feedback persuasion to
do online banking and lastly, pricing is differ-
ent when it comes to senior citizens compared
to the working individual.
Legislator, regulator and
the banking sector
Banking fees across the main banks are
published on Central Bank's website---the
presentation stated---and therefore there is
full disclosure of fees.
"Full and regular disclosure of fees by banks
allows better comparisons by customers and
The regulatory or other body could monitor
to ensure this practice exists. This appears to
have commenced by CBTT with the recent
introduction of the requirement of banks to
submit their fee schedules annually," accord-
ing to the report.
What is clear, the report said, is there is need
to have "further development and increased
visibility of the Office of the Banking Services
This office was established in May 2003 by
the Central Bank of T&T in conjunction with
the commercial banks operating in T&T.
"The role of this institution is to investi-
gate complaints made against all institutions
covered by the Financial Institutions Act. This
office acts as alternative dispute resolution
option for consumers and commercial banks,"
the report reminded.
The banks called for the proclamation of the
remaining sections of the Electronic Transac-
tions Act (2011). Also, for the agency banking
legislation because, "there is no legislation
that references agency banking. This type if
legislation would allow the commercial banks
to penetrate more rural regions, with satel-
lite units which do not require a heavy capital
outlay and without the need to apply for a
license. These investments are in accordance
with the vision of the government."
BANK FEES--- A COMPARISON
Barbados Grenada St Lucia
$33.80-$50.70 $24.90-62.25 $24.90-62.25 $16.80-$41.77 $20-$25
Card services/annual fees
$98.02-$1,014 $462.30-$473.10 $190.49-$846.60 $60.37-$825.62 $200-$600
Expressed in $TT currency
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