CYPRUS: MP takes on the banks over unfair customer charges

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Ruling DISY party leader Averof Neofytou has launched a crusade against unfair increases in bank charges, accusing Cyprus banks of targeting vulnerable groups for profit.

Neofytou warned banks that he will not allow for these charges to be introduced without a fight.

In statements made on Friday, the MP listed a series of increases that some banks are to impose on customers. He noted that these measures are targeting the most vulnerable members of society, especially the elderly who do not bank online.

He said that issuing a chequebook will cost customers 40 euros from 25 euros, an increase of 60%, noting that this does not affect businesses but a pensioner on EUR 400 to 500 a month.

The charge for paying utility bills at a bank counter will increase from EUR 2 to 5.

He also added that cash withdrawals with the assistance of a bank teller will go up from EUR 2 to 5. While charges for managing a current account of up to EUR 3,000 will be increased to EUR 6 from 3.

"They do not want poor customers. They do not want to serve the poor and middle-income groups. Simple as that".

Banks argue that increasing such fees is part of their digitalisation policy.

Neofytou said: “If they wanted to push people to do their transactions electronically, they could do so by encouraging their customers to do their business online rather than punishing senior citizens who do not know how to do online banking."

He posted a table of the proposed increases in bank charges on his Twitter account but did not name the bank that was preparing to introduce them from January 13, 2020