SBI likely to move from a system of average monthly balance to an average quarterly balance

The State Bank of India (SBI) is likely to make changes to its rules for maintaining minimum balance in savings accounts and slash the penalties for going under the limit, officials familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The officials said that the country’s largest lender is likely to move from a system of average monthly balance to an average quarterly balance.

“The charges for non-maintenance of minimum balance will be reduced by two-thirds of the current penalty,” said an official, who asked not to be named.

Currently, the monthly average balance (MAB) for SBI savings accounts in urban and metro centres is ₹3,000, in semi urban centres ₹2000, and ₹1,000 in rural centres.

The monthly penalty for nonadherence is between ₹30 and ₹50 in urban and metro centres, and ₹20 to ₹40 in semi-urban and rural areas.

This move comes after SBI faced criticism over reports that the bank had earned ₹1,771.67 crore from customers for not maintaining enough balance in their savings accounts. The information was obtained from data from the finance ministry.

The charges collected by SBI exceeded the bank’s July-September quarter net profit of R1581.55 crore.

SBI, which has close to 405 million savings account customers, had reintroduced MAB penalty charges in April 2017 after a gap of six years. The MAB rules were tweaked in October, when the balance requirements and penalties were reduced.

The state-run bank’s MAB charges were raised in Parliament during this session. Facing criticism, SBI said on January 2: “We would like to clarify that savings bank accounts such as Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojna (PMJDY), small accounts and Basic Savings Bank Deposit (BSBD) accounts, pensioner, minor and all social beneficiary accounts are exempted from MAB requirement, and no charges ever have been recovered.”

Another official in the know of the changes said that the bank would announce the new rules shortly.

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