SBI shuts down 41 lakh savings accounts over minimum balance

State Bank of India (SBI) closed 41.16 lakh savings accounts between April-January in the current fiscal year for not maintaining the minimum balance, an RTI query has revealed.

SBI had last April re-introduced the penal charges for non-maintenance of average monthly balance after a gap of five years and in October had revised down the charges to some extent.

''Due to provisions of penalty on non-maintenance of minimum balance, the bank has closed 41.16 lakh savings bank accounts between 1 April 2017 and 31 January 2018,'' the bank replied to an RTI query filed by Chandra Shekhar Gaud from Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh.

The April to November 2017 period saw the bank had net a windfall of Rs1,771.67 crore, more than its second quarter profit, from customers for non-maintenance of minimum balance, according to the finance ministry data.

Meanwhile, the lender has cut its charges on non-maintenance of an average monthly balance in savings account by up to 75 per cent, effective 1 April.

The charges for non-maintenance of AMB for customers in metro and urban centres have been cut from a maximum of Rs50 per month plus GST to Rs15 per month plus GST for more than 75 per cent shortfall in AMB.

The revision will benefit over 25 crore bank customers. Account holders in semi-urban and rural centres, will now pay Rs12 instead of Rs 40 per month plus GST and Rs10 per month plus GST, respectively, according to the bank.

The AMB for urban and metro areas, is Rs3,000, semi-urban areas Rs2,000 and rural areas Rs1,000. In metro and urban areas, charges for shortfall in AMB balance of up to 50 per cent have been cut from Rs30 to Rs10 and for shortfall of between 50-75 per cent from Rs40 to Rs12.

The lender has been collecting around Rs220 crore every month from customers for non-maintenance of monthly balance since April 2017, leading to protests from customers.

''We have reduced these charges taking into account the feedback and sentiments of our customers,'' The Indian Express quoted SBI's managing director (retail and digital banking) P K Gupta. ''The bank has always focused on keeping the interests of its customers first and this is one of our many efforts towards fulfilling customers' expectations.''