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Today’s customer is always right

Belarusian banks to refund money to client accounts in cases of fraud, regardless of the reason
By Alexander Benkovsky

Regardless of personal carelessness in losing a card, bank customers are soon to be covered for all cases of fraud, as soon as to be announced by the recently created Committee on Non-cash Payments. Comprising representatives of the National Bank, the Association of Belarusian banks, and various other banks of Belarus, the Committee’s initiatives are not proving popular with many of the commercial banks, who fear that fraud will rise as a result. However, most countries across Western Europe already uphold ‘zero responsibility’ in such cases; even Russia has its Law ‘On the National Payment System’, obliging banks to immediately refund clients on being notified of illegal withdrawal, rather than waiting until each case has been examined. The number of cases of fraud has been seen to rise since the amendment. 

Belarusians are often victims of card fraud while travelling abroad. In particular, 2010-2011 saw an ‘epidemic’ of such cases, particularly in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Italy and Spain. Travellers to Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Australia also registered illegal transactions on their cards. A common ploy is for criminals to install skimmer devices, which are placed over the keyboard (to register a card’s PIN code) and within the slot (to save card data). Information is then used to create a copy of the original card, which can be used freely, until the true owner informs their bank of incorrect use. 

The introduction of zero responsibility is still under debate in Belarus, notes Sergey Dubkov, the Deputy Chairman of the National Bank. The level of compensation is yet to be decided, as there are taxation implications. “It’s necessary to detail the system and strike a happy medium, convenient to banks and to clients,” Mr. Dubkov stresses, adding that the largest banks countrywide have long adhered to the principle. Now, it seems that smaller banks will need to follow suit.
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