NBS to ban banks from using small print in correspondence with their clients

The clients of a certain bank in Serbia have recently received a letter in which the bank is informing of them of raising their existing fees and introducing new ones, such as a fee for checking a balance on an ATM, with the information about the new charges written in almost unreadable small print.

The National Bank of Serbia (NBS) warns that this is not acceptable and announces that in the following period, it will determine the size and font of the letters that banks in our country will have to use when supplying information about the services they offer to clients.

“Banks, as well as other payment and lending institutions, are obliged to provide information in a clear and easily understandable way, and in order for these notifications to be clear and easy to understand, they need to readable,” NBS added.

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The current regulation does not stipulate the font and / or font size used in letters that banks send to their clients. The NBS says that, on the basis of recently adopted amendments to the Payment Services Act, the content and form of the notifications containing information about bank services and their fees will be standardized.

“When sending written notifications to their clients, the banks should use the font size that enables the client to easily read information contain therein, that is, that the document is readable the client”, NBS said.

NBS adds that the Law on Protection of Financial Service Users stipulates that the effective interest rate should be shown in the advertising of banking and leasing services, and that that information should be displayed in a manner that is more visible than other advertising elements.

NBS also says that banks are obliged to provide information in a clear and easily understandable manner about all the conditions under which they provide payment services to clients, in a written form.

Amendments to the said law will be applicable as of March 2019, and by December this year, the NBS will establish a list of banking services regarding which the banks will have to provide clear and readable information to their clients.

“The National Bank of Serbia will compile a list of banking services that should be communicated to clients in a clear, unambiguous and comprehensible manner and enable clients to obtain all the necessary information with ease and in a relatively quick way”, NBS adds.

In the notice, mentioned at the beginning of this article, a bank client is informed that, as of 5th October, the bank will charge new fees in order to “harmonize its price policy with market trends”.

The bank does not explain what “market trends” it was referring to. It is certainly not the dinar / euro exchange rate since this rate has been stable for quite a long time thank to NBS’ interventions on the foreign currency exchange market in order to prevent excessive fluctuations of the exchange rate.

Also, the NBS benchmark interest rate, in that period, fell to 4.75 percent, from 7.75 percent in May 2013 to 3.0 percent in April this year, as it currently stands.

Although, bank clients are not pleased that bank fees will go up in October, they are even more outraged that the information about the increase is printed in a tiny, unreadable font.

The NBS reports that citizens can contact them if their banks do not provide information in a clear and easy-to-understand manner, in accordance with the stipulations of the Payment Services Act.

(Politika, 03.08.2018)



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