In view of safeguarding the interests of the bank customers, building up a healthy relationship between customers and banks and thereby ensuring customer confidence and stability in the banking sector, the Central Bank has issued a direction, mandating a ‘Customer Charter’ to be followed by licensed banks.
The bank said this direction would be effective within six months’ time. The direction has been issued to the banks after a consultative process with representatives of all stakeholders.
The key requirements to be fulfilled by the banks, as set out in the charter are as follows:
(a) Providing factual information to customers; e.g., description of the products/services; financial and other benefits; fees and charges; commissions; interest rates; procedures to be followed; major terms and conditions; complaint procedures and relief; restrictions on accounts and transactions; compensations on pre-mature withdrawal/termination or cancellation of products/services by banks or by customers; procedures to be followed on foreclosure of properties.
(b) Providing information in languages preferred by customers i.e., Sinhala, Tamil or English.
(c) Assisting customers to fully understand the ‘Terms & Conditions’ on products/services.
(d) Providing factual information to customers in all advertisements in any media and promotional materials, and further clarification or information on those advertisements, if required.
(e) Displaying information such as interest rates, foreign exchange rates, contact details of the Financial Ombudsman, banking hours and holidays, in the head offices, branches and other banking outlets.
(f) Improving customer awareness on financial products/services.
(g) Protecting customers from any harassment, abusive debt collection practices, disclosure of personal information to others, by agents appointed by banks.
(h) Assisting elderly, differently-abled, or customers with low financial literacy, to have fair access to banking services.
The charter also incorporates certain customer obligations towards banks. These would cover, inter alia;
(a) Disclosing of all relevant information and any changes relating to the customers to the banks,
(b) Acquiring full knowledge and understanding of the product/service offered by banks before entering into contract,
(c) Exercising due care in all transactions
(d) Notifying the bank of any fraudulent transaction/s.
The direction has been issued to the banks after a consultative process with representatives of all stakeholders. The ‘Customer Charter’ can be accessed through the website of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, www.cbsl.gov.lk.