A further step in assisting banking system customers in dealing with the effects of the coronavirus crisis
The Banking Supervision Department is working to assist banking system customers in dealing with the ramifications of the coronavirus crisis, and to encourage carrying out banking services remotely, in order to reduce the need to go into the bank branch, and to assist in protecting the health of the public. As such, the Banking Supervision Department today published for public comment a draft Supervisory Order reducing the following fees: Debit card, lawyer’s warning letter and activity by a clerk at a call center. The Order will be in effect for 6 months from the date of its publication as a final Order.
Supervisor of Banks Yair Avidan said, “The Banking Supervision Department is constantly examining ways to make things easier for banking system customers in dealing with the ramifications of the crisis. The imposing of supervision on specific fees, for a defined period of time, is intended to reduce costs during this period and to encourage customers to carry out activities through direct channels, and to the extent possible, without having to go to the branch. We will continue to examine taking other steps, as needed, with the goal of assisting customers during this challenging time.”
Following is an explanation of the fees included in the Supervisory Order:
Debit card—full exemption from fee
A debit card is a basic means of payment that makes it possible to reduce the use of cash. Among other things, it enables allowance recipients to withdraw money from an ATM without standing in line for a teller. Due to Ministry of Health guidelines and the need to avoid gatherings, the Banking Supervision Department seeks to encourage customers to avoid physically going in to the bank branches as much as possible, and to make greater use of other means. Holding a card makes it possible to reduce the number of bank branch visits, and eases the carrying out of daily activities without cash. Currently, the monthly fee for holding a debit card is NIS 8.5. With the goal of encouraging the enhanced distribution and use of such cards, primarily during the crisis period, the Banking Supervision Department decided to intervene in this fee.
For a “Worth Knowing” guide on the issue of debit cards, click here.
Call-center teller executed activity—maximum fee amount shall be NIS 2.5 per transaction
A teller-executed activity in a current account carried out via a staffed call center is considered a teller-executed activity, and accordingly is charged a fee as a teller-executed activity, which is around NIS 6 on average, compared with NIS 1.5 charged for activities carried out via direct channels. In order to encourage customers to avoid going into branches during the coronavirus crisis and to make use of call centers, particularly customers from at-risk populations for whom it is best not to leave their home, or who are prohibited from leaving their home, for health reasons. To that end, the Banking Supervision Department decided that the maximum amount that a customer can be charged in respect of the call center service during the Order period shall be NIS 2.5.
Lawyer’s warning letter— maximum fee amount shall be NIS 50 per letter
When a customer doesn’t pay a debt on time, the payment in arrears continues, and all internal collection attempts have been exhausted by the banking corporation, the bank sends the customer a warning letter from a lawyer. The letter is intended to warn the customer of his or her debt balance before the banking corporation sends the handling of the debt to the court system. This is in order to enable the customer to deal with the debt ahead of time, and this avoid the opening of legal proceedings that entail high costs and a further deterioration of his or her situation. The fee in respect of sending the letter ranged from NIS 147–200. In order to make it easier for customers whose situation has worsened, the Banking Supervision Department decided to reduce the amount paid in respect of the letter to a maximum of NIS 50.
 For an expanded discussion, see the Supervisor’s Letter to the banking system regarding customers who have encountered difficulties due to the coronavirus crisis, June 24, 2020.