The Bank of Ghana has recently released findings of a market survey conducted from November 2019 to February 2020, to assess banks and SDIs compliance to consumer protection regimes.
The report showed that the financial institutions were engaged in several breaches of the BoG’s market conduct regulations. Following the release of the report some financial experts have asked the BoG to name and shame the commercial banks involved in the infractions to serve as a deterrent to the others. However, a Banking Consultant, Dr Richmond Atuahene, says revealing the identities of the banks, alone, is not enough to prevent future infringements of the regulations.Rather, he has called on the central bank to sanction the banks violating customers’ rights, in addition to disclosing the names.
“In other jurisdictions, when you treat customer unfairly you are sanctioned properly. So it is just not naming and shaming, people should be sanctioned very well so that customers will be treated fairly”, he said.
The report, among others, revealed that banks in the country are signing customers onto E-banking products and services and consequently charged fees on them without their explicit consent.
It also, reports that customers’ savings accounts were charged for over-the-counter withdrawals below stipulated minimum amounts.
Similarly, changes in terms and conditions of loan agreements were made and implemented without the required period of prior notification of customers, according to the report.
Additionally, the reports said some borrowers were not provided with pre-agreement disclosure statements prior to the signing of loan agreements.
Also, it said that borrowers were not clearly informed of the requirement to submit their credit data to credit bureaus and to conduct credit search on them when taking loans.
It again said that borrowers were not clearly informed of the requirement to submit their credit data to credit bureaus and to conduct credit search on them when taking loans.
Dr Atuahene says the banks have designated desks in their offices for addressing customer concerns, but when a client walks into any of them to lodge a complaint they are often pushed around till they get fed up.
He further urged the BoG to embark on a financial literacy campaign to get the public educated on how and where to make a complaint.
Market conduct examination
The market conduct examination was conducted to ensure adequate focus on the conduct of banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions (SDIs) towards their customers.
The exercise involved officials of the Market Conduct Office visiting eight selected banks to examine the structures, systems, and processes in place to promote consumer protection and the early resolution of customer complaints, and to generally assess compliance with relevant market conduct rules.
The examinations covered a number of key areas including; Board and Management oversight of the complaints handling function, unfair banking practices; privacy and data protection issues; ambience of banking halls; disclosure and transparency; and the content of marketing material.
Dr Atuahene commended the Bank of Ghana for carrying out such an exercise, adding that “this is the first time in the history of the Ghanaian banking sector for a conduct regulation to be done”
By Salifu B.B. Moro