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Customers To Be Able To Compare Banks

BAHAMAS Clearing Banks Association Chairman Gowon Bowe yesterday said within the next month or two, consumers should have a clearer indication of various banking fees and be able to compare across the board.

He further explained why certain banks either charged high fees to cash cheques from non-customers or completely stepped away from the practice.

Mr Bowe told The Tribune that with instances of fraud on the rise, banks found they were opened to increased liability.

In an interview, he sought to justify through this one example of why some banks decided to raise certain fees, adding they were also grappling with declining margins in the lending business.

Banks, he said, have agreed to embark on an educational campaign, telling this newspaper this should be the focus moving forward and not the decision of some institutions to lower their fees.

Nonetheless, he said it was up to the consumer to make their own decisions while banks had to determine what was best for their clients.

"With the cheque cashing you know . . . several years ago persons' complaint was that they didn't deposit cheques into their bank accounts because there was always a five-day working day or seven day working hold," Mr Bowe said.

"But with the Bahamas automated clearing house, if you deposit a cheque into your bank today within 48 hours or less you should have your account credited.

"So for persons who still want to go through the process of manually cashing cheques then they have to decide if they are willing to bear the fees because certainly in the newspaper over the last 12 months the amount of cheque frauds that have been reported should be a clear indication that ultimately banks would have to be more vigilant about interacting with persons that are not customers of the bank because there is no recourse for a fraudulent cheque."

This comes as Labour Minister Dion Foulkes announced Tuesday that following three meetings, some institutions already began to lower administrative fees.

He said the Central Bank of The Bahamas and the Clearing Banks Association will also list fees consumers are likely to pay, similar to the published gas tracker, so consumers are able to regularly compare fees across local banks.

The changes are in response to consumer concerns about surmounting banking fees and come after three meetings between various representatives, he said.

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