74% of Tunisians do not trust banks’ transparency

Some 74 per cent of Tunisians do not trust the transparency of the country’s banks, a survey on the quality of banking and telecommunications services conducted by the Tunisian Organisation to Inform the Consumer (OTIC) has revealed.

OTIC, which polled 2,415 customers of banks and financial institutions across Tunisia, also found that 84 per cent of the respondents were not satisfied with banking services and 94 per cent were not aware of the free services that were available to them.

President of the OTIC, Lotfi Riahi, expressed concern at the lack of awareness, stating that banks offer about 45 services, of which 14 are free, such as the opening of the account, depositing and withdrawing funds and the payment of cheques.

Riahi further revealed that 5,980 consumer complaints were received in the first five months of 2018; nearly a fifth were due to issues with the banking sector.

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Tunisia’s banking system has struggled since the 2011 revolution; banks themselves remain fragile and under-performing, with a lack of adequate funds to cover the risk of default. Despite lacking key services, they continue to develop new products and services, such as remote account access and smartphone apps.

Since the revolution, private citizens and companies have favoured cash or investments over keeping their money in regular bank accounts. But broader economic challenges, including rising inflation rates and unemployment, have tested the patience of the Tunisian public.

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Tunisia’s ruling coalition has failed to agree on a new economic reform plan, although nine cabinets have been formed since the uprisings to address the challenges.

Last month talks between officials from the two ruling parties, Nidaa Tounes and Ennahda, and labour and employers’ unions broke off after both failed to agree on details.

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