HSBC could start charging for “basic banking services”

HSBC has said it could start charging for “basic banking services” in some countries after it reported a 35% fall in quarterly profits.

BBC reports that the bank was considering charging for products such as current accounts, which are free to UK customers.

HSBC says it was losing money on a “large number” of such accounts.

A spokesman tells the BBC it was committed to continuing to provide free “basic bank accounts” in the UK. But they add: “We always keep under review the pricing for our standard current accounts and associated services.”

The bank is considering charging for basic products such as current accounts due to its 35% fall in quarterly pre-tax profits.

Very few banks charge for standard bank accounts, but experts say this could change if the UK falls into negative interest rates due to the pandemic.

That would see the Bank of England take interest rates below zero to help boost consumer spending and revive the economy.

HSBC reported a 35% fall in pre-tax profit during the third quarter of the year to $3.1 billion, while revenues fell 11%.

Along with other banks, it has seen earnings hit amid an environment of rock bottom interest rates and is considering other ways of boosting revenues.

The lender also says it would accelerate its restructuring plan, cutting costs further than previously suggested.

It is still in the midst of cutting 35,000 jobs and did not say whether more jobs would go.

It said it would provide details on the plan with its full-year results next February.

Read more: HSBC to cut up to 300 jobs in UK commercial banking unit

Despite the tough environment, HSBC chief executive, Noel Quinn, says there were some bright spots.

“These were promising results against a backdrop of the continuing impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy,” he says.

“I’m pleased with the significantly lower credit losses in the quarter, and we are moving at pace to adapt our business model to a protracted low interest rate environment.”

HSBC had set aside between $8 billion and $13 billion for bad loans as it expects more people and businesses to default on their repayments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, it says its expenses are likely to be at the lower end of that range.

In September, HSBC’s share price fell to its lowest level since 1995 amid allegations that the bank had allowed fraudsters to transfer millions of dollars around the world, even after learning of the scam.

At its peak, the bank employed more than 300,000 people. But since the global financial crisis, the bank has trimmed its operations significantly.

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