“Not because you are not paying for something, means that there is no cost.”
Those were the words uttered by Managing Director of the Grenada Co-operative Bank Limited (GCBL), Richard Duncan as he responded to a question posed at a press conference on how the bank intends to deal with increasing queries from customers about the frequent increase in bank fees and charges.
Duncan told reporters gathered at the bank’s headquarters on Church Street, St. George’s, that the reason for the emergence of these fees and charges are because of compliance and regulatory requirements that are now placed on commercial banks.
“Bank fees are here to stay,” said the former Accountant General in the Ministry of Finance.
Duncan said that Co-op Bank’s Fair Fee Policy is intended to give assurances to customers about the affordability of their fees.
“…We always like to give customers adequate notice when we introduce a fee or we change a fee and I wish for us to give at least a month. I need to pause here and apologise for the fact that people did not get a full month the last time fees were revised, however, that is not the norm…”, he added.
According to Duncan, it is not the policy of Co-op bank to slap on the highest banking rates and charges to customers in the local banking sector.
He said: “…Our fees when we compare across financial institutions are reasonable and … we always encourage customers (to) choose their channels – choose the way they deal with the bank so as to avoid these fees or to minimise them.
“Customers must (get) accustomed to the fact that they have to pay for services. Choose how you access those services, so you can minimise the fees…and avoid those fees where possible and choose a bank that does not have the highest and those aggressive fee structure in banking,” he added.
The local banker also advised customers that they can look at alternative sources of banking to help reduce cost such as the use of debit and credit cards but to ensure that the proper security measures are always maintained.
Duncan noted that the convenience of these online services (debit and credit cards) has brought about a certain level of comfort for customers in terms of ease of doing business, and the ease of transactions.
But he quickly added that customers needed to be reminded “that they have a responsibility in keeping their information secure and by information, I mean, things like user names, passwords, your pins”.
“…What you find globally is that most, if not all financial institutions have very secure computerised systems, but sometimes the lapses by customers having their information shared or compromised is the beginning of problems for the majority of customers,” Duncan said.
The Co-op boss disclosed that the local financial institution has sought to address this issue by raising public awareness to encourage customers to keep their information secure at all times.
He said: “Remember your pin for your debit card or your credit card must be kept private like any other one. Your password, your user name for any system that you use on the internet, those are yours, do not go for example sharing with people that you do not know, either on the telephone or online clicking on certain links that might be there.
“…Cyber security as we know it is extremely important, and rest heavily on the customer keeping their information to themselves and not sharing it or giving it out to anyone directly, or going and submit information to people who would have lured you into making such submission, and these are global practices that we want people on the island to continue to cultivate and to harvest,” he added.