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Banks' €5 ATM fee cap rejected

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Banks' €5 ATM fee cap rejected
Photo: DPA
10:28 CEST+02:00
A €5 limit on cash machine withdrawal fees offered by banks amid intense criticism and government pressure was dismissed Wednesday by the competition watchdog as not good enough.

A spokesman for the Federal Cartel Office told daily Financial Times Deutschland that the office had sent a letter to the banking associations on Monday rejecting the figure offered.

“The maximum fee is simply too high,” he told the paper, adding that the amount would have functioned like a fixed fee in the end because none of the banks were likely to charge less than the maximum.

The watchdog has for months been reviewing cash machine withdrawal fees, which average €5.64 but sometimes reach €10, even though experts estimate each transaction costs the bank €0.63.

These fees are high compared with other countries, particularly for customers using an ATM belonging to another bank with whom their own bank does not have a deal.

But the spokesman told the paper that the organisation did welcome the banks' readiness to adhere to an obligatory limit and greater transparency about fees - a response to pressure from German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner and consumer protection advocates.

It is now up to the central credit committee (ZKA) to come up with a new fee limit scheme, or else face the threat of a Federal Cartel Office investigation over whether the bank fee system itself meets antitrust regulations, the paper said.

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