Mon | Oct 2, 2023

NCB to increase bank fees

Published:Sunday | September 17, 2023 | 12:05 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter

National Commercial Bank Jamaica, NCB, has advised that it will be adjusting some of its fees, effective November 1, changes that will mainly result in customers paying more to do business with the bank. NCB has hiked the price on six banking...

National Commercial Bank Jamaica, NCB, has advised that it will be adjusting some of its fees, effective November 1, changes that will mainly result in customers paying more to do business with the bank.

NCB has hiked the price on six banking services: manager’s cheque purchased via NCB account, the replacement of visa debt card, including pin changes, cheques recalled at customers’ request, online transfer of funds to other bank using the ACH transfer option, printouts for personal and SME sole trader accounts as well as to receive funds via transfer from other banks under the RTGS system.

The heaviest impact relates to the RTGS transactions, which will attract a new fee of $65 per transfer. Currently, NCB does not charge for that particular RTGS service.

RTGS transfers, short for Real Time Gross Settlement, are initiated once, before 2:30 pm, and completed within two hours. The other settlement option is through the Automated Clearing House or ACH system, under which transfers are dispatched twice per day and credited to the accounts within 24 hours, NCB said.

The cost to replace a Visa debit card as well as to conduct online transfers from NCB accounts to another bank through ACH will both move up by 83 per cent for each transaction. At present NCB charges $739.13 for the replacement of visa debit cards, but come November, customers will be charged $1,350 for each replacement.

Additionally, the cost to conduct online transfers to other banks through ACH will move from $10.87 to $20.

All the fees quoted will attract GCT.

Fees-and-commissions is a multibillion-dollar business for Jamaica’s top banking group. Last year, NCB collected $35 billion in fees and netted $26 billion from the segment after expenses pegged to delivery of banking services. The year before that, it collected $28 billion in fees and netted $22 billion.

The bank in advising of the changes, said it has “no choice” but to increase fees to keep up with the cost of delivering its services.

“Just like you, we’re feeling the effects of rising costs in our day-to-day operations. From network and security costs, investments in fraud prevention and technology to material and equipment costs, all of these have been gradually increasing,” NCB said in the advisory sent via email.

It added that so far, the bank has been absorbing a significant portion of these costs, to keep fees minimal. However, the financial institution reasoned that with the current economic climate, it needs to make a few changes to keep things “running smoothly and sustainably”. Its last fee revision was in January 2022.

“The good news is that not all of our fees are being increased; we also have a number of fee reductions,” the bank said.

Two of its services: e-commerce set-up, as well as the transfer of funds to other banks through RTGS, excluding transfers done by commercial and corporate clients, will attract lower fees. E-commerce set-up fees will move from US$550 to US$200 while the transferring of funds to other banks using the RTGS option will move down from $173 per transfer to $130.

The fee restructure comes amid efforts by NCB Financial Group’s Chairman Michael Lee-Chin and Interim CEO Robert Almeida to squeeze additional returns out of the bank, which includes a review of different divisions across the group for possible areas to cut costs, mainly with the aim of ending a two-year hiatus on dividend payments. The bank is a member of the NCB Financial Group.

So far, NCB Financial has restructured fintech subsidiary Lynk, which is said to have affected about 30 employees.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com