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ATM, banking charges to go up as levies doubled

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Customer transactions that generate fees include obtaining account statements, ATM withdrawals and cheque clearance services. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The costs of bank charges like ATM, account fees and over-the-counter withdrawals will increase after President Uhuru Kenyatta proposed to double the taxes to 20 per cent from the current 10 per cent.

President Kenyatta’s proposal to double the tax on bank transactions is contained in the memo he sent MPs explaining his rejection of the Finance Bill voted in by Parliament.

“Exercise duty on other fees charged by the financial institutions shall be 20 per cent of their excisable value,” he said in the memo.

This new tax will also affect stockbrokers, fund managers and insurance firms that charge fees for their services.

Bankers say they will pass on the additional tax to consumers as the government seeks fresh revenue streams after consumers rejected the 16 per cent tax on petrol.

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Banks earned Sh70.6 billion from fees and commissions as well as transaction charges for loans last year, meaning Treasury will raise at least Sh7 billion from the lenders from the tax increase.

Banks charge consumers varying fees on account-related transactions.

Customer transactions that generate fees include obtaining account statements, ATM withdrawals and cheque clearance services.

Lenders have been seeking to boost profits through fees and charges on consumer products and transactions to beat the rate cap law, which has seen their interest income margins thin.

In 2016, Kenya capped commercial lending rates at four percentage points above the Central Bank Rate, and set a minimum deposit rate, squeezing profit margins for banks.

This has seen banks come under pressure to rely more heavily on fees, commissions and other charges to achieve the soaring earnings growth and dividends they previously enjoyed and that shareholders expect.

Experts have in the recent past pointed out that banks have been turning to commissions and fees as profit boosters, with a significant increase in these revenue lines likely to mitigate the impact of narrowed lending margins.

Central Bank of Kenya in October 2016 ordered commercial banks to immediately stop charging their customers any new levies following the coming into force of the new law putting a ceiling to interest rates charges.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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