If withdrawing cash from an automated teller (ATM) is subject to any fees, the consumer must be informed of this. The proprietor of ATMs and banks are each responsible for informing the consumer of any fees.
Bank-owned Otto ATMs got some competition in the spring of 2008, when Nosto ATMs, which are managed by EuroCash Finland Oy came onto the market. Some consumers were surprised by the fact that, if they withdrew cash from a Nosto machine, their own bank would charge a fee for the withdrawal. The Consumer Agency felt it necessary to determine whose responsibility it would be to inform the consumers, and in what way.
Consumers can withdraw cash for free at banks. This is why ATMs can be considered an extra service that must be paid for by the bank and, in turn, just cause for charging a reasonable fee.
Even EU legislation stipulates that fees may be charged for cash withdrawals from ATMs. According to a European payment services directive , banks cannot make any distinctions between payments made at home and across national borders. This means that, if a Finnish consumer withdraws euros from an ATM i, for example, Belgium, they will be charged the same service fee as they would in Finland, and the fee would be drawn from their account in Finland. The payment service directive, however, does not stipulate what different types of fees might be used within a member state.
In actuality, today's consumers have fewer possibilities to withdraw cash from banks than before. Some banks have done completely away with their cash services or restricted their offering significantly. This could result in the need to reassess whether automated cash distribution can still be considered an extra service.
Fee information through a variety of channels
Information on whether fees are charged for withdrawing cash is, under the Consumer Protection Act, considered essential information, which is why it must be provided to the consumer. However, under the Payment Services Act, the proprietor of an ATM is not responsible for informing the customer of any fee increases, provided that they receive fee information from the bank.
The bank must inform its own customers of any fees charged for the withdrawal of cash from ATMs. This is due to the fact that the bank is responsible for informing its customers of all fees it charges on the basis of the customer relationship.
Cash withdrawal is one of the more commonly used basic bank services and involves the largest percentage of the bank's consumer customers. This is why basic bank services must be reasonable. Customers should also be informed of them effectively and in such a manner that the consumers have easy access to information on the fees charged for each bank service at that time.
This type of information is easy to keep constantly available on the bank website and/or online bank login page. However, the fee must also be easily found on manual price lists in bank offices.
The Finnish Consumer Agency still recommended that Eurocash Oy list any withdrawal fees on the screen of its Nosto ATMs before the consumer completes their cash withdrawal. This allows the consumer to cancel the transaction if they should so desire.
The Finnish Consumer Agency has also required that other proprietors of ATMs provide the same type of general information on whether fees will be charged for use of the machine. The proprietors can direct customers to ask for more detailed information from their own bank or card issuer.
Competition also affected
Eurocash Finland Oy and two other ATM operators felt that the various fees charged by banks for making cash withdrawals on their Otto machines and others often restricted new operators from entering the market and competing. They brought the matter before the Finnish Competition Authority for investigation as a practice violating competition neutrality.
The Competition Authority received commitments from Nordea, OP-Keskus and Sampo Bank promising that they would price their customers' domestic, non-customer ATM withdrawals and withdrawals made on Otto machines with Visa and MasterCard cards attached to their accounts in a non-discriminatory manner. The Competition Authority requires that these commitments be observed.
Non-discrimination does not mean that the banks should charge customers the same fee for its own ATMs and those of other operators. The non-discrimination obligation affects how much difference in fees there may be, due to the fact that the banks must pay a variety of costs for withdrawals made on their own ATM and those operated by others.