Bank Fee Bill Passes Unanimously - but With Several Changes

The Knesset plenum passed the law for increased regulation over banking fees last night in its second and third readings. The bill was approved unanimously. The law is based on the non-partisan bill submitted by a group of Knesset members lead by Moshe Kahlon (Likud), Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Amnon Cohen (Shas), and on a similar proposed bill submitted by the government.

The plenum introduced a number of changes to the law at the last minute, on the request of the government and the Bank of Israel. In one such instance, the provision requiring the Bank of Israel to report to consumer organizations on bank requests to increase fees or add fee-based services, as suggested by MK Erdan, was removed. In addition, the provision requiring banks to provide customers with detailed quarterly reports of any fees charged was altered. The final version stipulates that banks are to report to their customers every six months rather than every quarter, following the Bank of Israel's assertion that banks are already flooding their customers reports.

The article relating to the credit card debts of a customer who changes banks, was deleted, and it will not be possible to transfer settlement of credit card debts to new banks.

Erdan was furious with the changes, and said that "the Bank of Israel's lack of interest in cooperating with consumer organizations when fees are raised is very worrisome." He added that he would consider promoting a non-partisan bill that would require it to do so.

MK Ofir Pines-Paz (Labor), who initiated the establishment of the parliamentary inquiry committee on banking fees, said that the law alters the status quo prevailing in the relations between banks and their customers.