In order to address the prevailing conduct of phone bankers, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has stopped them from marketing and selling of banking products and services when calls are made by the customers for a different purpose or inquiry.
It also disallows banks to make repeated calls to promote banking services or products to the consumers who have communicated their disinterest for the same offerings.
Under the “Guidelines on Prohibited Banking Conduct”, the banking regulator also asked banks to ensure that the consumers are not provided with misleading or deceptive information in connection with a service or product.
These guidelines on prohibited conduct have been developed in line with the best international practices which will help in bringing more clarity on regulatory expectations on business conduct besides complementing the existing SBP instructions issued from time to time.
The guidelines have been categorized in the following five areas:
- Misleading conduct.
- Undue influence & pressure.
- Demand of undue considerations.
- Collusion to fix features in the products/services to the detriment of consumer.
- Complacency not to invest in systems and procedure, HR, consumer awareness, etc.
Hiding Actual Charges
Banks are asked to avoid hiding or not disclosing the actual price of a financing product (interest communication – Annual Percentage Rate only without disclosing other charges).
SBP said that banks should prevent business practices that restrict the freedom of consumers to choose between services or products available to them. Banks shall also prevent collusive business practices that may result in unfavorable outcomes to consumers.
SBP also restricts banks from misrepresenting conventional products as Shariah compliant products.
Banking conduct plays an important role in building consumer confidence, which is fundamental to the stability and efficiency of the banking sector. Irresponsible business conduct can undermine the confidence of the public in the banking sector. Hence, the adverse consequences for financial stability, irresponsible conduct needs to be addressed proactively.
Conduct is any action or statement related to the promotion, sale or supply of banking services or products to consumers, including any reference to third party products by the bank itself or its agent.
All banks/MFBs/DFIs are advised to incorporate the same in their Fair Treatment of Consumers framework by March 31, 2019 as per their scope of operations.
It is expected that the banks will review their existing products and processes in light of these guidelines and ensure its monitoring through adequate controls. Besides, banks shall also undertake adequate awareness measures to educate their staff and consumers about prohibited banking conduct.