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Banks milk customers

Ngoni Chanakira

DESPITE repeated calls for the country’s banking sector to stop rampant profiteering by squeezing cash-strapped customers, financial institutions have begun charging various rates for cheques

written to third parties.

The Zimbabwe Banking Corporation Ltd this week said it was now charging customers $10 000 for an open cheque paid to a third party.

An official said the fee was for “administrative purposes”.

NMB Bank Ltd, which caters mainly for up-market clients and corporates, this week confirmed that it was now charging customers $2 500 for every cheque signed that is above $250 000.

“We are charging $2 500 for all cheques that are above $250 000,” a senior manager said. “For anything less than that amount we are charging 1% of the figure. We refer to this as ledger fees.”

Customers have been riled by this recent move to charge customers for cheques written, saying it would further strain their operations.

“This is tantamount to milking the customer,” said a top company official. “We sign about 10 cheques almost every day and this will be a nightmare for us because we need supplies from various quarters who need payment immediately. For auditing purposes clients prefer cheques than cash so we have serious cash-flow problems.”

Stanbic Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd said for every $100 they were charging $1 for a cheque signed to a third party.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono when he presented his monetary policy statement said the central bank had discovered that there was widespread “corporate incest” in the financial services sector.

He said he would deal with all errant institutions.

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