In a recent unexpected move, several Pakistani banks have started charging PKR2.5 (USD0.015) for ATM receipts.

In Schedule of Charges

The move has caught bank customers unaware, with many claiming that the move was unannounced. The news has caught the attention of social media, with people sharing that the charges have been introduced without knowledge.

Only a few banks have started this practice, and even lesser have informed their customers. Those that have published this news only did by mentioning it in their Schedule of Charges. The lengthy document details every charge or fee that the customer will pay on the banking services. With such complexity in the document, it is easy to ignore a small sentence and customers usually do not read the document in the first place.

As yet, the banks that have started charging for ATM receipt seem to be the participants of the 1Link network. 1Link is a collection of 38 banks in Pakistan that allows interoperability of ATMs and cards. Till date, the following banks are charging for the receipts:

  • Allied Bank
  • Askari Bank
  • Bank Alfalah
  • Bank Al-Habib
  • Faysal Bank
  • Habib Metropolitan Bank
  • JS Bank
  • Meezan Bank
  • Standard Chartered
  • United Bank

Banks Fleecing Customers

At first, customers believed that the fee was introduced under the directives of State Bank of Pakistan, the state regulator. However, SBP has clarified that it has not issued any instructions in this regard. The charge introduced by the banks have been defended by the financial institutions as a move under the “Go Green” campaign to reduce the carbon footprint. It is not uncommon to see areas around ATMs littered with receipts as people simply check their balance or confirm a transaction and throw it away.

This is not the first time Pakistani banks have used different tactics to make money. Though the move is justified by them under the garb of an environment friendly action, the history says a lot different. If these institutes are so sensitive about the environment, they should first consider shifting to a pure digital medium for their documentation. Computers and digital ledgers are used, but they still rely on rolls of papers for record keeping. 

Furthermore, fleecing their customers is nothing new. An irony in itself, nearly every bank charges their customers anywhere from PKR50 to PKR 75 (USD0.316~USD0.474) per month for SMS alerts, even though the regulator has made it mandatory for them to provide this service free of cost. In an open defiance to authorities, these banks further charge taxes on the services.

If you are a customer using 1Link system to access service from an ATM that is not your bank’s, you will be charged 18.75 per transaction. SBP has already penalized banks to the tune of PKR770 million for this illegal move. The move has been challenged in court and as is common for the legal system of Pakistan, the decision on this matter is pending in courts for some years now.

As banks try to find unique ways to fleece their customers and authorities clamp down on technologies and methods that are cheaper, faster and more secure, the citizens are forced to move a cash economy as the cost of being banked keeps rising.

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