Charges collected on digital transactions in zero-balance accounts have been refunded: SBI clarifies

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CBDT had advised Banks to refund the charges collected, if any, on transactions carried out using the digital mode.

State Bank of India (SBI) has come out with a clarification regarding charges collected from account holders on digital transactions in Basic Savings Bank Deposit (BSBD) accounts beyond 4 free transactions. The BSBD Account also referred to as the zero-balance account, is a kind of savings account that offers certain banking facilities, free of charge, to the account holders. There is no penalty for non-maintenance of a minimum balance in the zero balance account. The zero balance account can be opened in any bank.

In the clarification statement, SBI states that “Reserve Bank of India, during August 2012 mandated that Banks are free to levy reasonable charges in BSBD accounts beyond 4 free transactions. The availment of such additional services shall be at the option of the customers. Accordingly, SBI introduced charges for Debit transactions beyond four free transactions in BSBD accounts w.e.f 15.06.2016 with prior intimation to the customers.

Thereafter, CBDT in August 2020, advised Banks to refund the charges collected, if any, on or after 01.01.2020 on transactions carried out using the digital mode and not to impose charges on future transactions carried out through such modes.

In terms of CBDT directives, SBI has refunded the charges recovered in respect of all the digital transactions to the BSBD customers w.e.f. 01.01.2020 to 14.09.2020. SBI has stopped recovering charges in such accounts on all digital transactions w.e.f. 15.09.2020, while retaining charges on cash withdrawals over and above four free withdrawals allowed per month.

The objective is also to encourage BSBD account holders including PMJDY account holders to adopt digital payment through the prescribed modes vis-à-vis the cash transactions.

As a zero-balance account holder, one is not eligible for opening any other savings bank deposit account in that bank. It means one can have either a savings account or BSBD account but not both of them

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