Banks thwarted (for now) over plan to make Portuguese pay ATM charges

Portuguese banks trying to make a case for charging people using ATM (Multibanco) machines have been thwarted… for now.

João Torres, Secretary of State for Consumer Defence, has told TSF radio that the law doesn’t actually allow for charges – and he’s not expecting the Portuguese banking association to ask for a change to the law.

But something suggests the writing is on the wall (or in the wall, in this case).

ATM’s elsewhere, including neighbouring Spain, do indeed charge commissions for ATM usage. This is what appears to be so irritating Portuguese banks.

The presidents of BCP, BPI, CGD and Novo Banco are all wringing their hands over the perceived iniquity of their lot.

“Are we in a banking union or in Portugal?” Miguel Maya, executive president of BCP, railed at a ‘CEO Banking Forum’ in Cascais earlier this week.

“The issue in my opinion should not be whether people should pay or not pay, it should be that there are the same rules within a banking union”.

BPI’s Pablo Forero said: “If someone comes here (to Portugal) to do business, without investing in any ATM, why should the services be free?”

State bank CGD’s boss Paulo Macedo feels that “if a service has a value, it should be paid for” because “it’s not right that banking staff don’t get paid for the service they perform”.

While the gripes reverberated around the banking forum, with Santander Totta’s boss Pedro Castro e Almeida very ‘hot under the collar’ (because over the border his bank does indeed charge commissions), nowhere has it been explained that customers already pay for the use of Multibanco machines, through the annual fees for possessing a card in the first place.

Wikipedia has an informative page on ‘ATM usage fees’, adding to the feeling at some point in the future, Portuguese bank just may get their way.

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