BANKING fees in Slovakia no longer will be opaque. A new law requires banks to publish transparently all the fees and costs that a client is supposed to pay for banking services. The National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) also should publish a common database of selected types of fees from all banks on its website.
Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš is confident that the new conditions will influence the competitive environment of banks positively and create pressure for the possible lowering of banking fees.
However, bankers think the new law will not make a significant change on the market.
They emphasize that they keep a transparent policy in informing a client about the fees and costs already. Additionally, no regulation can replace the activity of a client in looking for the most advantageous product.
"The banking sector is currently the most competitive and at the same time the most regulated branch. It means that banks are competing for a client through terms of products including fees," Marta Krejcarová, the spokeswoman of ČSOB bank, said.
She added that, according to many analyses, banks in Slovakia have the lowest fees among European countries. She mentioned a 2005 study of the Association of Banks that showed the lowest banking fees were in Slovakia in relation to the average salary in V4 countries (Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic).
Miriam Fuňová, the spokeswoman of Slovenská sporiteľňa bank: "Of course, we are for clients having a better knowledge about all the fees they pay. However, banks for a long time already have published on their Internet pages all the fees and costs that a client can expect if he takes a loan or opens an account. The information is [physically] in branches as well. Clients already have had enough possibilities to compare the fees."
Roman Začka, director of public relation department of Tatra banka, added that he does not expect that the new regulation will significantly impact banks' procedures in serving clients.
"Tatra banka has published all the fees on its website for a long time. We see no problem in publishing them on the NBS website if the law requires it," he added.
According to the recently approved amendment to the Act on Banks, banks will be obliged to inform clients clearly about all the costs and yields that are related to the contract before signing the contract. Financial houses also will have to inform clients about the change of terms of trade not only in their branches but also on the Internet 15 days before coming into effect.
Based on the new law, the Finance Ministry and the national bank want to create a common database of the fees of selected types of deals and transactions.
The NBS will take care of publishing the database in a transparent form on the Internet. The database should ensure a client a fast and simple comparison of the terms of trade of individual banks.
Recent Finance Ministry analyses of fees for banking services showed that although a Slovak client pays about 0.6 percent of his yearly salary for banking fees, which is more than in Sweden, Germany, Belgium, or Switzerland, in absolute numbers, the banking fees in Slovakia are among the cheapest.
A study by Capgemini showed that Slovaks pay €48 for typical services from banking institutions a year, while Hungarian and Polish clients pay more.
Austrian customers must pay €79 a year on average. Banking fees in Austria are just above the average of €78 for the 19 countries in the study.
Swiss clients pay the most in fees, yearly about €137. Italy and Germany pay €113 and €98 respectively. Fees in the USA (€93) and France (€89) also belong among the more expensive. In contrast, the Dutch spend only €25, and in China fees are only €29.