Agricultural Bank of China

Interbank services offered to cut waiting time, for a price

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 November, 2007, 12:00am

The mainland's central bank took action to cut waiting times at banks yesterday by launching a nationwide personal service system that will allow interbank money transactions - for a fee, and sometimes a hefty one.

Clients won't have to go to a branch of their own bank to make deposits, withdrawals and money transfers as long as the branch is authorised to offer the service, according to the new policy, announced by the People's Bank of China.It is the latest in a series of measures the central bank has taken this year to address public complaints about having to queue for hours to do transactions.

Fourteen banks are in the first group of banks authorised to provide the service, including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Construction Bank of China, Bank of Communications, China Everbright Bank and CITIC.

However, the amount of the fee varies from bank to bank. For instance, a client of Pudong Development Bank would have to pay up to 200 yuan for a cash withdrawal from ICBC, but if it was the other way around, the maximum fee for an ICBC client would be 50 yuan.

'They charge too much,' a report in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province , quoted Mr Liu, a local resident, as saying. 'I'd have to pay 100 yuan to withdraw 10,000 yuan from the Agricultural Bank, which is near my home. The fee is too high. I'd rather grab a taxi to go to my bank.'

Some customers said they prefer commercial banks to the state-owned ones because they charge less and have shorter queues.

In May, the central bank allowed people to pay their utility fees, such as water and electricity, via their accounts in any bank. The daily cash withdrawal limit for automated teller machines was also raised from 5,000 yuan to 20,000 yuan.