As per a study by the IIT Bombay, several banks, including State Bank of India, have been imposing excessive charges on some of the services provided to poor persons having zero-balance or Basic Savings Bank Deposit Accounts (BSBDA).
The study observed that the SBI’s decision to levy a charge of ₹17.70 for every debit transaction beyond four by the BSBDA account holders cannot be considered as “reasonable.” It highlighted that the imposition of service charges resulted in undue collections of over ₹300 crore from among nearly 12 crore BSBDA holders of SBI during the period 2015-20.
At the same time, India’s second-largest public sector lender Punjab National Bank also collected ₹9.9 crore during the same period out of its 3.9 crore BSBD accounts.
‘There had been systematic breach in the RBI regulations on BSBDAs by few banks, most notably by the SBI that hosts the maximum number of BSBDAs, when it charged ₹17.70 for every debit transaction (even via digital means) beyond four a month. This imposition of service charges resulted in undue collections to the tune of over ₹300 crore from among nearly 12 crore BSBDA holders of SBI during the period 2015-20, of which the period 2018-19 alone saw a collection of ₹72 crores and the period 2019-20, ₹158 crore,’ the study by IIT-Bombay professor Ashish Das stated.
Charges of BSBDA are guided by RBI guidelines as on September 2013. As per the direction, these accounts holders are ‘allowed more than four withdrawals’ in a month, at the bank’s discretion provided the bank does not charge for the same. The RBI considers a withdrawal, beyond four a month, a value-added service, it said. SBI, in breach of RBI regulations set forth as early as 2013, had been charging the BSBDA holders for every debit transaction beyond four a month, it said.