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The State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday released a clarification on the recent media reports based on the outcome of a study by IIT Bombay. A study by IIT-Bombay has claimed that State Bank of India and several other banks in the country have been imposing excessive charges on certain services which are provided to those with zero-balance accounts or Basic Savings Bank Deposit Accounts (BSBDA), according to reports. SBI collected over 300 crore by levying service charges during the period 2015-20, the study claimed.

In August 2012, Reserve Bank of India said that banks are free to levy charges in BSBD accounts beyond four free transactions. The availment of such additional services shall be at the option of the customers.

"Accordingly, SBI introduced charges for debit transactions beyond four free transactions in BSBD accounts w.e.f 15.06.2016 with prior intimation to the customers," India's largest lender clarified.

During August 2020, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) advised banks to refund the charges collected, if any, on or after 01.01.2020 on transactions carried out using the digital mode and not to impose charges on future transactions carried out through such modes.

Following the directives, SBI has refunded the charges recovered in respect of all the digital transactions to the BSBD customers w.e.f. 01.01.2020 to 14.09.2020, the lender mentioned.

"SBI has stopped recovering charges in such accounts on all digital transactions w.e.f. 15.09.2020, while retaining charges on cash withdrawals over and above four free withdrawals allowed per month," the bank said.

"The objective is also to encourage BSBD account holders including PMJDY account holders to adopt digital payment through the prescribed modes vis-à-vis the cash transactions," it added.

"SBI has been determinedly working towards offering a convenient banking experience to all its diverse range of customers. Bank has also waived fees levied on SMS services and on maintenance of monthly average balance to all its Savings Bank account holders while promoting financial inclusion in the country in a big way," the lender said in the statement.

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