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Argentinian Central Bank to Lift Freeze on Bank Fee Increases: Sets the Ceiling for Future Hikes at 9%

The Central Bank of the Argentine Republic says starting in January 2021, financial institutions will be able to increase the fees or commission they levy for services rendered. In its November 5 update, which effectively ends the February 19 freeze on any fee hikes, the central bank says such increases should not exceed 9% each month.

Furthermore, the country’s regulations require financial institutions to communicate any intention to increase such commissions 60 days in advance.

In the update, the central bank provides a list of the types of financial services where the authorization of the increases will be applicable and these include:

“(The) issuance of additional debit cards, replacement of debit cards due to theft or loss; use of ATMs (outside of the entity’s operating houses, another entity and / or network) and services for the extraction of funds through terminals at points of sale and cash withdrawals from the account by the owner or a third party.”

The update also adds that “financial entities may also order increases in commissions for other financial products and services, such as those related to the safe deposit box service, with the operation with securities and with the bank checking account.”

In February, the central bank announced the freezing of such commission increases part of the crisis-prone country’s response to the effects of Covid-19. However, some citizens of the country are voicing their displeasure at the lifting of the freeze.

On Twitter, users are criticizing the central bank’s approval of the commission hikes while others are seizing on this highlight to alternatives like bitcoin that are available to Argentinian citizens.

Also seizing on this is Athena Bitcoin, a company that now has 14 bitcoin ATMs installed around the country. In a Facebook update, the company reminds its followers that it already has an additional ATM at one supermarket in Palermo.

Athena, which deployed its first bitcoin ATM in 2018, now has similar installations in Buenos Aires, Avellaneda, La Plata, San Fernando, Córdoba, and Mendoza, according to a report.

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