Basa struck a deal this week with SA’s banks to cancel cross-bank ATM fees. Picture: Jason Boud
Basa struck a deal this week with SA’s banks to cancel cross-bank ATM fees. Picture: Jason Boud

Banking sector unveils relief measures for customers affected by unrest

By BR Reporter Time of article published Aug 2, 2021

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THE Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) struck a deal this week with South Africa’s banks that the Saswitch fee, which customers pay for using ATMs that do not belong to their own bank, will be cancelled for two months with effect from August 1.

This was in response to the recent civil unrest during which some ATMs in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were damaged.

Meanwhile, Standard Bank announced that it had scrapped ATM Saswitch fees permanently.

Standard Bank’s head of consumer and high net worth clients South Africa, Kabelo Makeke, said: “We understand that some of our clients are adversely affected by the unavailability of the damaged ATMs and believe that the bank needs to provide a longer-term relief than the agreed-upon two months’ Saswitch fee waiver, and that’s why as Standard Bank we had already permanently removed the Saswitch fee in January, when we implemented our new pricing for this year.”

According to the bank, it significantly reduced its ATM cash withdrawal fees with effect from January 1 by permanently removing the Saswitch fee that its clients used to pay when withdrawing cash from other banks’ ATMs.

“The removal of the Saswitch fee creates greater access to cash for our customers during this difficult period in South Africa. This should prove to be extremely useful and convenient to our customers in Gauteng and KZN, who may have found themselves cut off from access to cash and other banking services. Our customers are urged to use any available ATM cash points to withdraw cash for a flat fee of R10 per R 1000 drawn,” said Makeke.

“Standard Bank permanently scrapped the Saswitch fee at the beginning of this year following a temporary waiver during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown level 5 last year. We remind customers that this benefit is still available and urge our customers to use these industry facilities,” said Makeke.

The bank said customers have access to a Saswitch network of more than 20 000 ATMs from which to transact. In addition, the bank said its customers could withdraw cash at Standard Bank ATMs and its retailer partner network, including Pick n Pay, Builders, Cambridge Food, Checkers and Spar.

Absa has also announced relief measures to assist customers and communities. The measures include the reduction of Saswitch fees for two months and the reintroduction of payment relief to assist retail customers with existing credit facilities who have been impacted by the unrest.

The bank also said it would be offering bespoke credit solutions for businesses, including small and medium businesses, as they rebuild and restore operations. The solutions would be based on the unique circumstances and needs of each business.

Absa retail and business deputy chief executive Bongiwe Gangeni said: “Like many businesses in parts of the country, Absa was deeply impacted by this crisis. In addition to the damage and loss experienced by many of our customers, approximately 21 branches and more than 200 of our ATMs were damaged or vandalised – we have a first-hand appreciation of the disruption the recent looting has caused. This has strengthened our resolve to serving our loyal customers and ensuring that they have uninterrupted access to banking services.”

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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