MALAYSIAN banks are becoming fewer in number but getting larger all the time, what with numerous mergers and acquisitions. The reason is for them to be able to compete in the international market. But are there any real benefits for the people, who comprise the majority of the banks’ customers?
Banks are mostly used by the public for simple functions such as depositing and withdrawing money, putting savings into a fixed deposit (FD) account and perhaps for writing cheques for payments.
People are generally forced to use a bank as their employers pay their salaries into a bank account. They do not intend, nor do they have sufficient funds, to use the bank for share transactions, credit/overdraft facilities or other forms of major commercial transactions. The average person lives from hand to mouth. They just want to get some personal attention, be able to perform simple banking transactions and go about their lives.
However, banks have become so large, with numerous activities in the money market that are mostly beyond the reach of ordinary people, and therefore of no use to the average citizen. Because of their size and the fact that they provide a variety of services, banks charge all sorts of fees such as:
IF you do not use your account for a while, it can be made dormant and you have to pay a charge to re-activate it;
IF you are automatically charged a penalty and possibly blacklisted if a cheque is dishonoured, and no notice is given, you have to call to find out;
IF you require information about your account, it is difficult to get answers. One is generally faced with an answering machine with Pin numbers and passwords to remember;
YOU have to pay extra for basic services such as issuing cheques; and,
YOU are now even charged to get hard copies of statements!
And, the list goes on!
These are just some of the tactics practised by banks these days, and the list gets longer and longer.
Everything is changing, not necessarily for the better. The excuse is that banks are going paperless and also to ensure the security of their customers’ accounts.
One cannot help but wonder whether ordinary bank customers are indirectly footing the additional costs for the banks to employ these highly specialised personnel for the money market transactions, through the methods highlighted earlier.
No doubt the banks show huge profits. There is obviously no special talent required to run a bank as it takes the money in your account and gives you back a low interest rate, while lending it out at an exorbitant rate, just like the good old chettiars, money lenders and pawn shop owners of yesteryears.
Let the small percentage of customers who possess unlimited funds do their banking with these banks. Leave the rest of us alone to perform our small transactions peacefully and with minimal fees, please!
Why not force the big banks to have small branches that allow customers to perform basic activities without having to wait in long queues or being forced to talk to machines?
Perhaps Bank Negara should consider allowing small neighbourhood banks to open up to provide the basic banking needs as required by the community. Datuk K. Radhakrishnan, Kuala Lumpur NST Letters 31 JULY 2014 @ 8:07 AM