Ceska Sporitelna seeks revenue boost from gambling and porn

Ceska Sporitelna seeks revenue boost from gambling and porn
By bne IntelliNews April 20, 2016

The Czech Republic's leading retail bank by number of clients, Ceska Sporitelna, plans to implement fees for a range of products and services - including the use of cards to pay for online gambling and pornography - local media reported on April 20.

Analysts note that Czech banks have been forced to reduce lending terms and fees for basic services in recent years due to rising competition. However, falling profitability in an environment of ultra-low interest rates has banks across the region searching for ways to prop up revenue.

Owned by Austria's Erste - Central and Eastern Europe's third largest lender - Ceska Sporitelna will start charging clients for paper bank statements and credit-card withdrawals at ATMs. Businesses making deposits in cash will also face charges, while a 1% loyalty bonus will be scrapped.

Making the headlines in the Czech press, meanwhile, is a plan to charge card-users extra for online gambling and accessing paid pornography. Ceska Sporitelna will start imposing a fee of CZK20 (€0.74) for such transactions. Some 32,000 clients per month could be affected, Mlada fronta Dnes reports. Assuming a single transaction per client per month, the fees would generate €285,000 in annual revenue.

Gambling is big business in the Czech Republic, and it could be a strategic move to capitalise on a new law expected to legitimise the online gambling market from next year. The market is now dominated by Prague-listed Fortuna, Sazka, Synot Tip, Chance, and Tipsport.

Ceska Sporitelna says the fee will go in part towards improving security. Erste's Slovak unit, Slovenska sporitena, introduced similar fees last year.

However, it will also clearly welcome any extra income. Ceska Sporitelna's unaudited consolidated net profit dropped 5%y/y in 2015 to CZK14.3bn. While that was partly due to higher operating expenses, reflecting investments into technology and regulatory compliance, declining operating income on the back of interest rates that have sat at virtual zero for close to two years now.

 

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