Going Green? Pakistani banks begin charging a fee for ATM receipts

2.50 rupees are now being deducted per transaction where a receipt for the transaction is printed

Many customers were recently surprised to receive a message of a 2.5 rupees deduction from their bank accounts after they used their ATM cards. Many thought it was a new charge from the banks. After some confusion, even on part of some of the banks, it was cleared that it was actually a charge from 1Link for the ATM receipts. 1Link Limited is consortium of major banks that own and operate the largest representative interbank network in Pakistan.

Going Green

The company issued a statement in which they said that they want to implement green practices and therefore are levying the charge to discourage unnecessary receipt printing. It is not meant to earn more profits as per the company and is rather an environmentally friendly step. Consumers will have the option to not print the receipt and get an SMS instead of a physical receipt for no extra charge, they added.

Customers react

As one can imagine, many customers are unhappy with the move and feel that it is nothing more than a stunt to earn more profits. Many people prefer to keep a physical copy of the receipt and find it easier to keep it as a record. The fact that there was no intimation about the change and even banks were unaware, has been another thorny issue for many consumers.

Does it make sense?

There are a number of aspects to this change. For one, many organizations around the globe are adopting greener, more environmental-friendly practices. However, they communicate with the stakeholders clearly and well in advance for them to make the adjustments required. This was more of a knee-jerk reaction.   

Another issue is that many customers simply discard the receipt at the ATM. There are trash cans available for the customers but most of them prefer to just drop them on the floor which is extremely annoying for everyone. Such wastage does prompt actions where people should receive receipts only if they genuinely want it.

One can also not discount the profit angle here. There are over 14,000 ATM that come under 1Link. As per figures, nearly half a billion ATM transactions took place in fiscal year 2018 in Pakistan. A lot of revenue, and in turn, profits can be had by adding an apparently not so significant fee with every transaction. It’s definitely not a bad option for 1Link.

The bottom line

All the stakeholders need to act in an appropriate manner to solve this issue. To being with, 1Link should have made the change public at least a few months before it was implemented. This would have helped avoid confusion and frustration. The customers too should not make a mess with these receipts since discarding them right there and then really renders their purpose useless. A fee on the receipt printing seems fair but it should be lowered. People should also be educated on how it will help the environment and how they can use the SMS as a record. Surely, we can save some trees and a lot of mess at the ATMs with lesser paper usage and fewer printed receipts.

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