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Unfair blacklisting amongst top complaints against local banks

MBONGENI MGUNI
Watching over: The Bank of Botswana regulates banking conduct PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
The Botswana Banking Ombudsman has noted an increase in the number of people filing official complaints about unfair blacklisting by commercial banks, finding in favour of the customers in 50% of the cases.

In his report for 2018, released last week, Gabriel Maotwanyane noted that complaints about listing accounted for just more than one in 10 complaints received from bank customers. In 2017, the blacklisting complaints were just six percent of the total.

The Ombudsman office was established by the Bankers Association of Botswana in 2002 to investigate and mediate customer complaints against commercial banks.

Bank of Botswana data shows that by the end of 2018, commercial banks were owed a total of P5.4 billion in arrears, with individual customers accounting for P2.7 billion or 50% of the amount. Of the arrears owed by individuals, P745.2 million was classified as ‘specific provisions’ being the worst categorisation of arrears and the arrears likely to result in blacklisting.

Maotwanyane noted that other top complaints against banks included inconvenience, financial difficulty, loan clearance and loan issues, fixed deposit matters as well as mortgages.

Of the 71 received in 2018, the Ombudsman found in favour of banks in about 57% of cases, which compares to 64 cases received in 2017 with 59% in favour of banks.

“It is worth noting that

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ATM transactions, which had been a cause for concern has significantly declined possibly due to intense public education carried out by member banks,” Maotwanyane said.

In terms of complaints per bank, Barclays Bank Botswana and First National Bank Botswana had the highest in 2018 with 25 apiece, while State Bank of India had the least complaints with zero.

The Ombudsman was quick to point out that the number of cases filed against banks was not necessarily a condemnation of a bank’s customers’ service or conduct.

“The total number of files opened is not necessarily indicative of the individual bank’s complaint handling performance or performance in general.

“Banks vary considerably in size, client profile, distribution networks and product mix.

“Barclays, FNBB, BancABC and Standard Chartered’s total assets increased comparatively hence a possible link to the increase in complaints.

“In fact, a comparatively high number of complaints received against a bank might reflect its efforts in advertising the existence of the Banking Ombudsman Office or that it refers comparatively more of its disgruntled clients through to the office than do the other banks,” he said.



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