BSP is always conscious about the plight of customers and consumers who have experienced financial difficulties in recent years.
At our Annual General Meeting on 25 May 2018 in our presentation on our financial and operational performance in 2017 we presented a number of facts that illustrated that BSP has increased its profit by growing its business in PNG and also the larger contributions to our net profit after tax from our offshore branches, who in 2017 contributed approximately K190m of our reported profit.
BSP has not increased its fees for over 5 years and has in fact reduced many of its fees over that time. Our issuing fee for Visa Debit Cards has been eliminated whereas previously it was K100, we have reduced the EFTPOS fee for merchants by eliminating the minimum fee of K0.50 with the fee now a percentage of the EFTPOS transaction with no minimum fee, cheque collection fees have been reduced, ATM and EFTPOS fees have been reduced for our customers who have Kundu Standard accounts and around 200,000 customers who had a Kundu Saver have been migrated to the Kundu Standard account recently have also benefited from lower account fees. By the end of this year BSP will have foregone fees of almost K50m annually as a result of all these initiatives.
In addition to removing and reducing fees BSP introduced fee free Kids Accounts, fee free Sumatin accounts whenever transactions are made with BSP, and fee free plus saver accounts with over 280,000 free accounts in total in these specific accounts. Each of these accounts also earn interest on their deposits at rates up to 3.5%pa for the Plus Saver, which is much higher than other banks pay for deposits on call.
Earlier this year BSP also added life cover for any personal loan customer who takes out a new personal loan from 1 January 2018 which in the event of death of borrower would see the loan repaid from the insurance cover where the loan is K50,000 or lower as well as a contribution to funeral expenses of K5,000. BSP has not charged for this added feature for our personal loans and has absorbed the cost to ensure our customers are not asked to pay any more for their loan. The interest rate on our unsecured personal loans has also reduced by over 6% in the past 5 years.
BSP has made a conscious decision not to pass on any of the increased costs of business over the past 5 years and we have also made every effort to reduce fees and make our products more attractive.
As well as reducing fees BSP has continued to provide services in all major centres and most rural districts despite the difficulties that can be experienced in more remote areas.
BSP encourages our customers to talk to our staff about the best product for their needs, and to move to the lowest cost option and to take advantage of our fee free accounts with higher interest rates to ensure their savings are not eroded by bank fees.