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Spain passes law against double charges at bank ATMs

Source: Reuters - Sat 3rd Oct 2015
Spain passes law against double charges at bank ATMs

Bank customers in Spain will not be charged twice for using cash machines, after the Spanish government passed a new law which the banks have until next year to apply following a consumer backlash against ATM commissions.

The law, passed at the weekly cabinet meeting, means the bank which owns the cash machine can charge the customer's bank for a withdrawal. The customer's bank can then decide whether to pass that charge on to the customer but cannot add an extra charge on top.

The bank-customer association Facua said the new law, which must be applied by banks by Jan. 1, 2016, would not prevent lenders charging abusive fees as it didn't include a ceiling on ATM commissions.

Low interest rates and a deep economic slump forced lenders to seek other sources of income. Caixabank's introduction in March of a 2 euro ($2.24) flat fee per withdrawal for rivals' customers upended the long-standing system in Spain whereby people were charged by their own bank for taking money out elsewhere.

The move sparked a backlash, as some customers were left being charged twice.

BBVA and Santander also announced they would impose a 2 euro charge for ATM use out of their network.

The so-called "cash-machine wars" caused an uproar amongst consumer groups which said that the client was facing charges of up to 3 euros for a single withdrawal.

The Bank of Spain said in July that banking clients could not be charged twice.

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