A research done by Info Track Harris in collaboration with the Consumer federation of Kenya (COFEK) on the 19th and 20th of July 2012 revealed some very important matters on retail banking. The conference dabbed “Consumer Dialogue” where the findings were made public, was meant to involve the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) and the CBK too, but they turned down their invitation; probably owing to the revelations they feared they would get at the conference.
One of the things that came out strongly is that 94% of the retail bankers in Kenya would like to have interest rates dropped down to below 10%. That isn`t what the banks are willing to listen to as of now; seeing why their umbrella body turned down their invitation?
After CBK lowered CBR to 16.5%, very few banks, actually only five have either lowered or promised to do so soon. The rest, 38 commercial banks have remained silent over the issue and continue charging their clients exorbitant interest rates, some even charging them rates over 26%. Now that is what I call extortion!
Another thing that came up from the research is that the common mwanachi is getting enlightened and being conscious of their rights. They know they need fast services, reasonable interest rates, disclosure of all charges involved in their transactions with the bank among other things.
This discovery has resulted in many of them changing bank accounts from one bank to another that they think is the better one. Customers are now moving away from banks with long queues and slow paced services, high interest rates and hidden charges, to banks they feel are more customer-friendly.
Probably its time the banks discovered too that the public is getting wiser each day and that customer interests must be their first priority. Who is their clients anyway, isn`t it the same public? As I see things going, whether the banks like it or not, they will be subjected to too much pressure by the now informed public until they listen to their plea.
And for you the customer, the starting point is to know the kind of bank you are banking with. For a beginning, if your bank has the above stated undesirable characteristics, then it’s time to change your bank!