HSBC Malta has temporarily suspended it €5 customer account fee programme in view of on-going discussion with Central Bank and the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), the Authority said in a statement today.
The bank’s customer contact programme faced great criticism during the past week after news came out that it introduced a €5 banking fee for services for customers who fail to deposit €2,300 or more over a three-month period. Those aged 61 or over need to deposit €1,250 or over instead.
Following this criticism, the MFSA released a joint-statement with the Central Bank, noting that, after meeting the Central Bank and HSBC about this new programme, the bank has agreed to temporarily suspend the customer contact programme. The discussions are still ongoing.
The Consumers’ Association was one of the main entities to hit out at this new programme, saying that this move targets pensioners and low-income earners. It added that the interest rates given by banks is already ridiculous, and banks use their customers’ funds to lend and earn higher interest than what they offer.
“The biggest impact of additional charges will be on vulnerable consumers, on those whose income go into accounts with another bank for example, and HSBC’s move could encourage other banks to do the same.”
Additionally, the CA said, could affect competition between banks. It said that banks cannot continue to solely protect their interests while oppressing the vulnerable.