The Bank of Cyprus (BoC) announced on Thursday it would suspend the introduction of new charges for its services due to be introduced in January and offer intensive training to the elderly on how to be able to use electronic banking.
The announcement was made by CEO of the bank Panicos Nicolaou following a meeting with the head of ruling Disy Averof Neophytou who lambasted the lender last week over its decision to increase commissions and charges, which, he had said, mostly targetted vulnerable groups, especially the elderly who do not use electronic banking.
Nicolaou, pointing out to concerns expressed by Neophytou, said that as some specific demographics do not have access at the moment from their homes to secure and fast internet services that are cheap or even free, “we agreed as a bank that it was proper to suspend the introduction of the new fees and charges.
“These services might be easy, but some of our fellow citizens need guidance until they are completely ready to serve themselves,” he said.
He added that the bank would introduce intensive courses addressed mainly to the elderly to help them prepare themselves for “this unavoidable turn.”
“The digital choice is secure, fast and easy,” Nicolaou said, arguing that it is also cheaper than going into a bank.
Nicolaou clarified that the suspension did not concern customers of the International Business Units.
Neophytou welcomed the bank’s decision to suspend the new charges.
“The charges did not send the best message to the citizens and society,” Neophytou said. “Lenders too must have a sense of social responsibility.”
Nicolaou also said as Cyprus’ biggest bank, BoC feels the weight of its responsibility and its role in the country’s economy.
“We have no intention of relinquishing this responsibility,” he said, adding that the lender wanted to push the country a step closer to its digitisation.
He added that a key focus as regards the bank’s new charges in the immediate future is to educate customers on digital services and to inform them on ways to avoid charges and encourage them to use their mobile phones for the bank’s services.
“Already, 75 per cent of our transactions are done through digital channels, and our largest store today is the customers’ mobile phones,” he said.
Nicolaou also said the new charges reflect the cost of the transactions and do not make the bank more expensive for its customers.