New Delhi, Business Desk. State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest state-run bank, has not yet returned Rs 164 crore collected in the name of digital payments from the account holders of Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana. This recovery has taken place between April, 2017 to December, 2019. In this regard, SBI says that the bank is not refunding the charges collected on digital transactions from its customers. We confirm that the Bank is fully complying with the orders and regulatory directions of the Government in this regard.
The bank also said that SBI has been at the forefront of the Financial Inclusion (FI) initiative of the Government of India with a FI customer base of 13.76 crores. These customers are served by a strong network of 70,193 Bank Mitras. In Bank Mitra or Business Correspondent channel, banking and micro insurance services are provided in assisted mode to customers in rural and semi urban areas.
SBI has made all digital transactions free for FI customers with effect from October 1, 2020. Also, a maximum of 4 cash withdrawals in a month are free. Totally free digital transactions and 4 free cash withdrawals are enabling these customers to fulfill all their banking needs.
IIT Mumbai has reported this. According to him, in a report prepared on Jan-Dhan Account Scheme, even after getting instructions from the government to refund this fee, the bank has so far returned only Rs 90 crore to the account holders. Rs 164 crore is yet to be returned. SBI had collected over Rs 254 crore in total charges for UPI and Rupay transactions from Jan Dhan accounts during April, 2017 to September, 2020. In this, the bank had charged Rs 17.70 per transaction from the account holders.
SBI, unlike any other bank, started levying charges for digital transactions by Jan Dhan account holders from June 1, 2017. The bank was charging Rs 17.70 per transaction for more than four withdrawals in a month. This move of the bank adversely affected the Jan Dhan account holders doing digital transactions on the call of the government.
When this attitude of the bank was complained to the Finance Ministry in August, 2020, it took immediate action. The CBDT issued a circular for banks on August 30, 2020, asking them to refund the fees charged from the account holders with effect from January 1, 2020. Apart from this, no such fee should be charged in future. After this, SBI started the process of refunding the fees charged for digital transactions from Jan-Dhan account holders on February 17, 2021. Statistics professor Ashish Das, who prepared the report, says that Rs 164 crore is yet to be returned to these account holders.