• The Banking Supervision
    Department is holding a professional conference today, entitled “The Customer
    at the Center”.

  • The Banking Supervision
    Department announces further measures in the area of fees, with the aim of
    ensuring that bank customers will also benefit from the savings created as a
    result of streamlining at banks, and from the transition to direct banking.

  • The Banking Supervision
    Department will soon publish a directive that will lead to increased
    transparency and fairness, and to increased control, concerning how household
    and small business debts are collected by the banks.

 

Supervisor of Banks Dr. Hedva Ber said, “We are acting to ensure
that bank customers will also benefit from the savings generated for banks as a
result of the streamlining measures we are leading in the banking system.  The banks are reducing their workforce, and
some are reducing the number of branches, while customers are executing more
transactions through direct means such as the Internet, mobile applications and
ATMs.  The measures we are announcing
today, in the area of fees, will help ensure that the savings generated for the
banks as a result of the streamlining will also reach the customers.”

 

Deputy Supervisor of Banks Ms. Odeda Perez said, “The directive
regarding debt collections is one of the most important consumer directives we
have issued in recent years, and it will ensure that the debt collection
process concerning a customer who is encountering difficulties and not
fulfilling the agreement will be fair. 
The directive’s point of departure is that debts must be repaid.  At the same time, we expect the banking
corporation to act fairly toward the customer at every stage of the
relationship with the bank, even when that relationship becomes rocky.  The directive is the product of an in-depth
examination of the matter conducted by a joint team from the Bank of Israel,
the banking system, and the Enforcement and Collection Authority, and we
believe that it provides a response to the issues raised by all of these
parties, and that the situation for customers encountering repayment
difficulties will improve.”

 

The measures carried out by the Banking Supervision Department in the
past year to increase fairness and trust in the banking system and to advance
competition were presented at the conference. 
A number of banks presented the tools they are currently offering to
households and small businesses.  The
conference also featured a panel of ombudsmen from the banks, led by the Head
of the Public Enquiries Unit in the Banking Supervision Department, Ms. Einav
Hecht Amir, which discussed the question of “What are bank customers
complaining about,” and how the complaints are handled by the banks and by the
Banking Supervision department.  Adv.
Sylvia Segal of the “Emun Hatzibur” organization also participated in the
panel.

 

Supervisor of Banks Dr. Hedva Ber emphasized the fact that the link
connecting the banking system with households and small businesses has become
more intensive in recent years, and that the banks have increased activity with
households at the expense of a decline in activity with large borrowers.  The Supervisor enumerated the central
measures advanced by the Banking Supervision Department in the past year to
benefit households, including: reducing fees for senior citizens and those with
disabilities, making it easier for young people to purchase homes in “Buyer’s
Price” projects, the website launched to enable households to find “lost” dormant
deposits, and actions undertaken by the Department and led by the banks and the
association of banks to increase financial awareness.  Alongside these, the Supervisor presented all
the structural measures taken by the Bank of Israel to increase competition in
the banking field.

 

The Supervisor of Banks said, “At the Banking Supervision Department, we
are attentive to public criticism on issues in the banking field, and we are
acting to correct what must be corrected. 
In recent years, the banks have become more attentive to the broad
public, due among other things to the social protest and the regulatory
requirements we have imposed.”

 

In terms of the new fee measures declared at the conference, the
Supervisor noted:
“Our requirement of the banks today is that every
transaction executed by a customer will be executed through direct means, such
as the Internet, a mobile application, or an automatic machine, that it be less
expensive than a transaction executed in the branch, and obviously that this is
disclosed in the fee schedule.  In
addition, and against the background of the trend where some banks are closing
branches, we have decided to instruct that cash withdrawals by a customer from
an ATM belonging to the bank where that customer manages his account shall be
considered a customer-executed transaction (with a lower fee) even if the ATM
is at a location other than the branch. 
In addition, in view of the law authorizing the Banking Supervision
Department to approve the closure of branches, when issuing approvals, we will
examine whether it is necessary to leave a cash withdrawal machine nearby, for
a defined period and at a low cost, for the customers of all banks.”

 

In terms of the initiative to increase financial awareness, the
Supervisor’s Chief of Staff, Ms. Tal Harel Matityahu,
presented the
activities advanced by the Department in conjunction with the banks and the
Association of Banks, which have taken place in about 100 branches throughout
the country.  She noted that, “one of the
ways to help the public manage accounts in a balanced and informed manner and
make decisions that will lead to lower account management costs is to increase
financial awareness.  This year the
Banking Supervision Department, together with the banks and the Association of
Banks, took significant actions in this important area as well.”

 

Participants in the conference other than representatives of the banking
system included Dr. Kira Radinsky, a computer scientist and hi-tech
entrepreneur who specializes in data mining. 
She presented the issue of forecasting events in various areas, with an
emphasis on big data, and the possibility of using that information to benefit
the customer.  Another participant was Mr.
Doron Shnidman
, owner of the Bituach Yashir insurance and finance company,
who presented how a nonbank corporation operates in the credit field and its
contribution to increased competition and to the improved state of retail
customers.