Absa defends bank charges
Johannesburg - Absa Group [JSE:ASA] defended its relatively high banking fees saying on Friday they focus on "value for money, rather than price".
"We believe there is sufficient evidence that we provide value to our customers with choice, convenience, accessibility and security," it said.
This followed a banking fee survey by trade union Solidarity which declared that Absa was one of the two most expensive banks in South Africa, followed by Standard Bank Group [JSE:SBK].
Absa said it welcomed any report that drew attention to the fact that customers had products best suited to their needs, and that these needs changed over time.
"At Absa we know that no two customers are alike and therefore we have online fee calculators and highly trained staff, who can advise customers on their individual and unique transactional needs."
Customers' needs went beyond just a transactional account - such as car and home finance, and lending - and Absa considered these aspects when giving advice.
Their customers also had the benefit of their relationship with global group Barclays which helped do business globally.
"At Absa we focus on value for money rather than absolute price."
With over 8700 self service terminals, its network was 28% larger than their nearest rival, said Absa.
"Convenience, accessibility and safety are factors that are very easily overlooked in reports of this nature."
The Solidarity research institute (SRI) compares the bank charges of the various personal bank accounts offered by the country's five large commercial banks - Absa, First National Bank, Standard Bank, Nedbank Group [JSE:NED] and Capitec Bank Holdings [JSE:CPI].
Capitec's Global One account was found to be the cheapest.
"The average bank charges of this account over eight different user profiles amount to R67.35 a month and have not been increased since 2010," said Paul Joubert, senior researcher, on Thursday.
"Absa's cheapest option, the Silver Package account, has average monthly charges that are more than double that of the Capitec account.
"The charges also rose by 8% from R140.90 to R152.15, between 2010 and 2011," he said.
FNB's cheapest account was the Smart Unlimited with a monthly bank charge of R73.10.
Nedbank's cheapest was Savvy Electronic account at R105.04 monthly.
The cheapest Standard Bank account was its Classic Cheque fixed fee account at R133.43.
These costs were calculated using an average of eight transactional profiles and excluding minimum balances and the effect of interest.
Capitec also has the least expensive transmission account - an account without an overdraft facility.
However, when linked to an overdraft, a chequebook and a credit card, FNB offers the cheapest current accounts, according to the report.
Business accounts were not included in the comparisons and the analysis of the bank charges was based on various hypothetical scenarios.