According to Equity Bank’s social media posts, these SMS alert charges were implemented two days ago (April 24). Equity did not inform its customers of these SMS alert charges, and many discovered it after making transactions.
“We have introduced a standard SMS alert charges of Kshs. 2.26, effective 24th April. The charge applies to mobile and online transaction confirmation alerts,” posted Equity on Twitter.
Customers are already angry about this new fee, which could add up to a substantial amount, considering mobile/internet banking is commonplace in the country.
Customers receive one-time passwords whenever they set up the Equity Mobile app, which now attracts a fee. Any transaction made on their app is usually accompanied by an alert via SMS.
It should further be remembered that the lender does not have a good history of safeguarding some of its customers’ accounts following many complaints that have been shared by tens, perhaps more, of customers on social media platforms.
The new fee is set to boost the lender’s non-interest income, coming after the bank introduced an annual debit card fee of Sh240 in 2021.
The card fee stands to earn the bank upwards of Sh2 billion per year, assuming most of the issued cards are active.
Equity saw its total non-interest income in Kenya grow to Sh27.5 billion in the year ended December, up from Sh22.8 billion a year earlier.
This included fees and commissions –not related to loans— which jumped to Sh7.5 billion from Sh6.7 billion.
Other banks charging customers to receive message alerts include Co-operative Bank of Kenya (Sh42) and Absa Bank Kenya (Sh5).
Commercial banks re-introduced charges at the start of the year for bank-to-mobile transactions, a move expected to boost earnings.
To this end, it only makes sense why customers would want to receive SMS alerts to their phones because they stand to lose more if that is not the case.
It would also mean that these customers cannot know about the status of their accounts if they choose to deactivate those alerts.
This brings us to another salient point: there is no way to deactivate the alerts at the moment, implying that Equity is compelling customers to cover these fees, whether they like it or not.
Remember, this is also a bank that charges customers KES 240 annually just for owning a debit card. It is unlikely that these SMS alert charges will be suspended, and as usual, Kenyans will forget about them in due course.
However, it would be great to give customers an option to opt out of these charges (to the detriment of their bank account security) because the charges are just too high, especially for people who transact on the platform daily.