THE IDEA of paying bank charges for the privilege of using cash machines is not favoured among the general public. In fact 14,800 have already signed a petition on the internet available at site www.PetitionOnline.com/bancatms citing the fact that banks in Portugal, unlike most other sectors of the economy, have been raking in record profits in recent years despite the economic crisis.
The banks for their part say they need to make modest charges on Multibanco withdrawals, to cover the costs of introducing new ATM machines nationwide, which will enable clients to, not only make deposits, but also count the amount of cash paid directly into a client’s account.
The idea for the petition arose as a result of a forum on ‘The Future of Payment Systems in Europe’ which took place at the end of February, and in which the administrators of three Portuguese banks spoke of their legitimate right to make withdrawal and balance charges at ATMs, since they are bank services.
However, consumer groups against the measures, say the Multibanco system has contributed to swelling bank profits, enabling them to axe staff and close down branches nationwide.
“Now that the Portuguese are hooked on the Multibanco system they want to make us pay for this service after all these years,” state the authors of the petition text, saying that the “high interest rates on credit cards adequately meet the costs of maintaining the service as being free for the rest of us.”
Official sources at Banco Espirito Santo and Caixa Geral de Depositos, have so far rejected the notion of charges, while Millennium BCP and BPI have said they have no plans for the moment to introduce charges.