Vietnam's central bank on Tuesday said it will censure a senior officer for making statements considered to have been demeaning to the public regarding new ATM transfer and withdrawal fees.
"People will have the benefit of being enlightened that this service has a cost," said Bui Quang Tien, head of the bank's Settlement Systems Department, at a February 27 conference on implementing the fees this March.
"Living in the wet rice culture, we have gotten used to enjoy wind and fresh air for free. Now we are asked to pay, so we will need to understand well the procedures and operation [of ATMs] to avoid problems during the transactions [to avoid paying multiple times]. And we will have to consider when we should withdraw money," Tien said.
The central bank statement at the Tuesday press briefing said that Tien's speaking did not represent the views of the State Bank of Vietnam, news website Dan Tri reported.
It will censure Tien and demanded that he explain himself.
Tien has publicly apologized to ATM card users, saying he only wanted to talk about a heavy subject in a friendly way.
The central bank's regulations allow domestic lenders to charge their own customers VND1,000 (less than 5 US cents) for each ATM withdrawal and VND500 for a printed transaction receipt, both of which used to be free.
It justified the new fees by saying they would help domestic banks to cover ATM expenditures and facilities. However, many have said that the banks had already been profiting from annual membership fees and that many ATMs are often broken or out of service.
Most banks have delayed imposing the fees though, saying they don't want to further burden their customers, many of whom have been outspokenly unhappy with the new fees.
According to the State Bank of Vietnam, 50 commercial banks in Vietnam have issued around 50 million ATM cards.
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