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Central Bank begins charging APSSS Fees to local banks

Posted By: Marty

Central Bank begins charging APSSS Fees to local banks - 06/23/19 12:06 PM

The Central Bank implemented the Automated Payments & Securities Settlement System (APSSS) in October 2016. Since its introduction, this modern national payment system has enhanced the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the financial system’s payment infrastructure. With financial institutions connected in a local network, banks have been able to provide a wider range of payment options and services to their customers and these customers have been able to perform electronic payments anywhere in Belize.

The Central Bank foresaw the tremendous positive impact that APSSS would have for all Belizeans, and have shouldered the cost to acquire, implement, and maintain the system for the past three years. Financial institutions are now being asked to contribute minimal fees for the processing of transactions through APSSS.

These fees will be used to offset the costs associated with maintaining and upgrading the system so that the Belizean people can continue to enjoy a modern and secure financial system. Furthermore, the fee structure was strategically designed to encourage the usage of the more efficient payment instruments. The Central Bank fees being charged to financial institutions are tabled below:

Payment Service Central Bank Fee to Financial Institutions

Electronic Funds Transfer over $50,000 or time critical transactions of any value          

• Will be processed individually during normal business hours. Funds are to be available within 1 hour subject to AML/CFT checks.
$3.50 per transaction

Electronic Funds Transfer under $50,000

• If submitted between 9:00 am and 12:00 noon, funds are to be available by the end of the same day.

$0.25 per transaction

Instant Funds Transfer

• Will be processed online 24x7, with funds available within minutes (Note: Not all banks offer this service).

$0.50 per payment

Cheque Processing

• If presented before 2:00 pm during normal business hours, funds are to be available 2 days later
- Cheques up to $50,000 $1.00 per cheque
- Cheques $50,000 to $100,000 $50.00 per cheque
- Cheques above $100,000 $100.00 per cheque


Central Bank of Belize to begin charging APSSS Fees to local banks

“Since its introduction, this modern national payment system has enhanced the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the financial system’s payment infrastructure. With financial institutions connected in a local network, banks have been able to provide a wider range of payment options and services to their customers, and these customers have been able to perform electronic payments anywhere in Belize,” said the Central Bank in a press release issued on Friday, June 7th. “The Central Bank foresaw the tremendous positive impact that APSSS would have for all Belizeans, and have shouldered the cost to acquire, implement, and maintain the system for the past three years. Financial institutions are now being asked to contribute minimal fees for the processing of transactions through APSSS.”

Through APSSS, financial institutions are connected to a local network, which enables banks to provide customers with services to make electronic payments quickly, safely, and securely anywhere in Belize. This project provides a wider range of payment options such as (1) Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) for low-value payments (which includes bulk payments, such as payroll and accounts payable) within the same day, (2) Instant Funds Transfer (IFT) (an electronic payment that is available 24/7) within a few minutes, (3) Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) for high value payments within an hour, and now (4) automated clearing and processing of cheques by the end of the next day.

As a result of the fees implemented by Central Bank, banks have adjusted their service fees for the customer as well. In a public notice, Atlantic Bank announced their fee charges. “RTGS and Instant Fund Transfer fees remain the same; while, the Same Day Transfer fee has decreased from $3 to $2. Checks that you issue and are deposited at another bank will now incur an in-clearing check fee. On the last day of the month, your checking account will be charged for all checks that were sent to the APSSS system to clear,” indicated the Atlantic Bank notice. All residents are encouraged to visit their local banks to familiarize themselves with the new fees if any. For more information on the APSSS system visit www.centralbank.org.bz.

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

Posted By: Marty

Re: Central Bank begins charging APSSS Fees to local banks - 07/04/19 11:07 AM

Central Bank does not believe banks are capitalizing on new fee structure

At the start of the month, Love News told you that the Central Bank of Belize has begun charging processing fees to the local banks, which will in turn pass on to the consumers. The new charges have to the with the Automated Payments and Securities Settlement System, or APSSS, which has improved the efficiency of banking services since it was implemented in October 2016. APSSS has been costing Central Bank an estimated $800,000 annually and it has gotten to a point where Central Bank is forced to implement fees to cover this overhead cost. As a result new banking fees are in effect that are being passed on to the local consumer. What we noticed however, is that where Central Bank is charging one dollar, the local banks are charging more than double that amount. Love News decided to contact Central Bank to find out if they are planning to regulate the fees that the local banks charge, since we are noticing stark increases and in the case of Belize Bank, they began levying fees since June 1 as opposed to July 1 when Central Bank began charging the APSSS fees. Central Bank’s response was that it has published its fees to financial institutions on its website and encourages all customers to familiarize themselves with them and to be discerning in making decisions on financial transactions. When we asked if they are concerned with what seems like a ploy for local banks to capitalize on this new fee structure to tax the consumers, they replied by saying that the financial institutions have invested in configuring and customizing their core banking systems to integrate with APSSS and have worked assiduously to ensure a safe and efficient payment system. While the Central Bank was quick in responding to our questions, we also got a comment from the Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, on these new bank charges. According to him, the charges are due to UDP being a “tax and spend” government.

LOVEFM
Posted By: Marty

Re: Central Bank begins charging APSSS Fees to local banks - 07/04/19 11:25 AM

New Bank Charges Like a Tax On Businesses

Many small businesses are saying they can't afford to pay a slew of new banking fees that came into effect in June, or at the start of this month - depending on where you bank.

The commercial banks are charging for use of the Automated Payments & Securities Settlement System, known as APSSS. This is the system was was introduced with much fanfare in October 2016 - and enabled you to clear cheques and electronic payments across banks on the same day, rather than 48 to 72 hours. But, it comes with a charge, and in April, the Central Bank announced that it has been bearing those costs for the past two and a half years. And earlier this year, it asked the commercial banks to, quote, "contribute minimal fees for the processing of transactions through APSSS."

And indeed, looking at those fees, they weren't that high: basic transactions for less than fifty thousand dollars would incur costs of 25 and 50 cents, or a dollar if its a cheque.

Of course, commercial banks - who never saw a fee they didn't want to hike - not only passed those costs along, but multiplied them! That's right, the fees that the banks are charging you are three and four times what the Central Bank is charging them!

All transfers of funds from one bank to another attract the new charges, but those trusty cheques written from one bank and deposited at another, attract the highest charges - and the greater the value of the cheque, the higher the charge. It's called an "inclearing cheque fee." And, if you're a business that makes a variety of payments as most businesses do, the only way to avoid it, really, is to open an account at every bank! Which isn't very practical.

PUP Says Bank Charges Reflect Lack Of Economic Creativity

For many business owners, those fees are like another tax - and today the PUP leader blamed, who else? The government:

Jules Vasquez
"These odious bank fees that the Central Bank has introduced at 25 and 50 cents and the banks being rapacious and usurious as they are increased it to 2 dollars, 3.75, 4 dollars and it's affecting a lot of small businesses, it's affecting everyone. Is that something you can speak on Mr. Leader?"


Hon. John Briceno - Leader of the Opposition
"That is the very point that we're bringing across, that we've been talking about. That we have just a tax and spend government, they find any which way they can get their hands into the pockets of the Belizean people and you say well Central Bank is taxing them but at the end of the day the profits of Central Bank is transferred to central government. So again, this is an indirect tax from this government."

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