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FNB makes ground by waiving Saswitch fees on peak payment days

FNB makes ground by waiving Saswitch fees on peak payment days
(Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Announcing their bank fee increases for 2022/23, FNB this week revealed that clients will be able to withdraw money at any ATM of their choice on peak payment days, with no Saswitch fees being imposed.

FNB’s innovation follows several banks changing the ATM fee structures, illustrating how the issue has become a hot topic with consumers.

A Saswitch fee is essentially the fee your bank charges you whenever you use another bank’s ATM. 

However, of the big four banks, Standard Bank seems to be the only one that has seen fit to drop Saswitch fees in line with low-cost banks such as Capitec and TymeBank. 

FNB is definitely making ground in this space with the decision to completely waive Saswitch fees on peak payment days, but should consider reducing Saswitch fees for the rest of the month too. 

Back in 2021, the Banking Association of South Africa announced a temporary withdrawal of all Saswitch fees across the banks for a period of two months. 

However, Absa, FNB and Nedbank have not seen fit to drop Saswitch fees since then, keeping fees at R34 to R35, which can be seen as punitive compared to the more reasonable R9.75 to R10.50 charge that the other banks have in place. 

“Even though we have 5,000 FNB ATMs nationwide and the option of free cash at till points, we still see many customers using other bank ATMs to access cash. 

“We see this mainly happens on very specific days, such as salary payment days and the days when Sassa grants are paid. To provide further relief, we are waiving all Saswitch fees on specific peak payment days of the month, namely the 25th, 1st, 31st and the 3rd,” says Ancley Jacobs, chief executive of FNB Retail Core Banking. 

On the lower-income end, there are minimal pricing changes, with the monthly account fee for FNB Easy PayU customers remaining at R4.95, while FNB Easy Zero customers have no monthly account fee. 

The FNB Easy Smart customer will absorb a R3 increase in their monthly account fee, which moves up to R62 a month but allows for unlimited electronic transactions. 

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How FNB’s 2022 fees hold up against other banks

Looking at the entry-level Easy PayU account, it seems to largely hold its own against similar entry-level accounts from other banks. 

A table listing monthly banking fees by bank

When it comes to the popular eBucks platform, FNB is making this available to more than half a million more customers from 1 July, with new earn rules and account pricing, in recognition of the fact that South Africans are currently facing a deluge of inflationary lifestyle increases.

More than two million customers currently benefit from eBucks, with roughly 25% of entry and middle-income customers getting more than 50% of their bank fees back in eBucks. 

Chief executive of eBucks, Johan Moolman, says from July, FNB Aspire customers earning between R180,000 to R450,000 a year will only need to complete one app transaction rather than three, to qualify for eBucks.  

FNB Easy PayU and FNB Easy Smart Option customers, who earn between R36,000 and R180,000 a year, will qualify for eBucks by withdrawing cash at a till point. Cash-at-till point withdrawals account for 18% of overall cash withdrawal volumes. 

The opening up of the eBucks reward platform will be welcomed by cash-strapped consumers facing rising inflation and a rising interest rate cycle

Although the petrol price has increased, government this week extended the fuel levy relief to 6 August, with a reduction of R1.50 a litre until 6 July and then a reduction of 75 cents until 2 August. 

FNB currently pays out roughly R2-billion worth of rewards each year, of which R450-million can be attributed to fuel rewards over the past year. 

Consumers on the upper end of the scale — earning R450,000 and up — will absorb the most increases when it comes to monthly fees These clients typically use the FNB Premier, Private Client and Private Wealth offerings and monthly fees increase 5% to R230, R420 and R525, respectively. 

The bank does seem to be quietly encouraging middle-class consumers to take on credit by keeping the FNB Aspire Fusion monthly account fee steady at R99, while implementing a R6 increase on the monthly fee for the Aspire Current account, moving the needle to R105 a month. 

The main difference is that the Aspire Fusion includes a built-in credit facility, while the Aspire Current account is a straight bank account. Both accounts offer an overdraft facility. 

Fees for international purchases range from 2.75% to 2% per transaction, which is significantly lower than most competitors. 

Raj Makanjee, chief executive of FNB Retail, says this reduction will help customers save money on fees for international services such as video and music streaming services, online shopping and e-hailing fares. 

When it comes to sending money, FNB Easy customers will now get one free eWallet send per month, while accounts from Aspire to Private Wealth get two free eWallet sends per month as part of a suite of real-time payment solutions. 

“We take pride in putting customers at the centre of our value propositions, and the changes we are implementing demonstrate our commitment to value-based financial and lifestyle solutions, especially in these difficult economic times. 

“We’re also excited to see more and more of our customers using our lifestyle solutions across eBucks, FNB Connect, and nav>> to optimise their fuel spend, manage budgets, telco and smart device spend,” Makanjee says. DM/BM


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