Czech customers punish established banks

Photo: Filip Jandourek, Czech Radio

Nearly 15 percent of Czechs switched to a different bank last year to avoid paying high fees, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported this week. According to a new survey carried out by STEM/MARK agency for one of the country’s smaller banks, Air Bank, every seventh client swapped their bank last year. The survey suggests that 85 percent of people choose their bank according to the fees it is charging.

Photo: Filip Jandourek
Among the banks that lost the largest number of clients are the country’s biggest banks. Česká spořitelna, the largest and oldest savings bank in the Czech Republic, lost some 31 percent of their clients last year, followed by Komerční banka with 18 percent and Poštovní spořitelna with 12 percent.

Most clients, 14 percent, chose Air Bank as their new bank, followed by Komerční banka and Fio banka with 12 percent each.

The survey suggests that over the past six months, 13 percent of clients opened a new bank account and another 14 percent are likely to open it within the next 12 months.

According to the survey, nearly 57 percent of Czechs have accounts in more than one bank, while 40 percent have their accounts solely in a single bank. Only three percent of people between the age of 18 and 60 don’t have any bank account at all.

Czech banks, especially the established companies, have had a reputation of charging their clients high fees. Over the past years, however, many of them were forced to change the trend, with smaller banks entering the Czech market minimizing their regular costs and charges to customers or scrapping fees altogether.

Despite this trend, Česká spořitelna continues to charge their clients for most of their services, including updates and internet banking related text messages, electronic transactions to other banks and account statements.

According to the most recent statistics of the Czech National Bank, Czech households have more than 2.25 trillion crowns deposited in banks. Over the past year, their combined savings increased by 161 billion crowns.