Money & Banking

Minimum balance norm for metros has Coimbatore residents in a tizzy

L N Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on January 11, 2018

Failure to maintain a minimum balance amount in a savings account on a quarterly basis will attract a fine. (file photo)

It generally pays to be the resident of a metro. There are better educational and health amenities, more lifestyle options, better transport facilities (although often undone by heavier traffic) and more connectivity. So, a tier-I city or an urban centre that is conferred 'metro' status may normally have much to look forward to. Occasionally, it can give rise to a considerable amount of misgivings.

A recent move by the State Bank of India is a case in point.

The bank had apparently included the city of Coimbatore as a metro in an internal circular and this was not exactly something that brought rapturous joy to the denizens of this expanding town. In fact, there was considerable consternation among its loyal clientele, with a good number of them calling up the bank/ visiting the branches on receiving a message that said they would have to maintain a minimum monthly average balance of Rs 5,000 in their savings bank accounts.

Under its latest rules effective April 1, 2017, the minimum balance to be maintained by customers in a metro is Rs 5,000, while it is Rs 3,000 in urban areas, Rs 2,000 in semi-urban areas and Rs 1,000 in rural areas, failing which penalty would be recovered from the respective accounts.

Bank sources, preferring anonymity, maintained that they were not sure from where the message had been sent but confirmed that there were anxious calls from customers.

A cross-section of customers whom BusinessLine spoke with said they were not informed about maintaining a minimum average balance of Rs 5,000 while opening the account.

“We live a hand-to-mouth existence. How can we possibly have a four-figure average minimum balance?” asked Raju, a cart-puller, wondering if he had taken a wrong decision in opening a bank account in the first place.

Sivakumar, a security guard in a private company, said he was not informed about maintaining a minimum balance when he opened the account four years back, so was confused when he received a message from the bank which read “your SB account XXXXX....balance in April '17 is below the required minimum monthly average. Please restore in 30 days to avoid charges in June.”

“My account is in a city branch. I am not too sure about the minimum balance as nothing is mentioned in the message. In any case, if they impose a charge, I will close my account and look for options elsewhere,” he said, worried about the charge he would have to pay.

An SBI spokesperson clarified that according to RBI guidelines “Coimbatore is correctly classified as a metro. Any centre with a population of more than 10 lakh is a metro.”

The Commissioner of the City Municipal Corporation here said he was not aware of it. “We do not know on what basis the bank has classified Coimbatore as a metro. The classification is within the jurisdiction of the government.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the Coimbatore Consumer Cause, K. Kathirmathiyon, has in a communication to the SBI Chairman sought immediate intervention. He has requested that the wrong be set right immediately and customers advised accordingly.

Customers would expect that, even if it means losing the 'metro' tag!



Published on May 12, 2017

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