State Bank of India issued a statement on Tuesday (November 23) with reference to the news article on 22.11.2021 alleging that SBI has not refunded charges recovered from the customers on digital transactions between April 2017 to December 2019.
"In this connection, we submit as under: The BC Channel is an outsourced model where all the services to the customers are provided in an assisted mode by the Bank Mitras. Customers can do Aadhaar Based transactions (AePS), Card & PIN based transactions on Micro ATMs and fund transfer transactions at these CSP outlets.
"BC/CSPs are being paid commission per transaction apart from monthly fixed commission. In addition, Bank is required to pay interchange fee for AePS, Card + PIN on Micro ATMs based transactions and fund transfer transactions to NPCI. The average cost of such transactions comes to Rs. 12.72 which is absorbed by the Bank.
"The Bank introduced charges beyond first four withdrawals in BSBD accounts in the BC channel w.e.f. 15.06.2016 in line with the RBI guidelines with prior intimation to the customers.
"A BSBD customer normally would not need to make more than four withdrawals in a month, and even if required, the same could be done from the branch without any cost. CBDT on 30.08.2020 advised Banks to refund charges collected, if any, on or after 01.01.2020 on digital transactions and not to impose charges on such future transactions.
"Accordingly, the Bank refunded charges of Rs. 90.20 crores to the customers recovered during 01.01.2020 to 14.09.2020. Bank is only charging beyond four free cash withdrawals in the BC channel, while there are no charges if digital channels are used. The objective is to promote digital transactions towards a ‘less cash’ economy. We reiterate that BSBD customer do not pay any charges for digital transactions including transactions using Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and RuPay debit cards."
In its statement the SBI said it has the large base of over 16 crore Basic Savings Bank Deposit (BSBD) accounts out of which Financial Inclusion (FI) customer base is around 14 crore. The services to these FI customers are provided through the Business Correspondent (BC) channel network of 70,193 Bank Mitras (CSPs) with around 30 lakh transactions daily, it said. These Bank Mitras provide doorstep / near doorstep services to the customers particularly to the less affluent. Apart from the basic banking services, Bank Mitras also offer services like enrolment under Social Security Schemes (APY/PMJJBY/PMSBY).
In the last three years, more than 4 crore customers have been enrolled into these Social Security Schemes by Bank Mitras. The Bank has made all digital transactions free to its customers w.e.f. 01.01.2020. Further, Bank has also waived fees on SMS services and on maintenance of minimum balance for all its Savings Bank account holders, it said.