The already weak earnings situation of the German banks is additionally burdened by the latest judgment of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH).

This is what the Fitch rating agency fears in a recent comment on the BGH ruling, according to which customers can claim back the money for fee increases.

Markus Frühauf

Editor in business.

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    For the credit checkers, the question arises not only how high the fee repayments to customers will be, but also how the ability of the banks to partially offset the dwindling interest income through fee increases is impaired.

    As the FAZ had reported, the Deutsche Bank estimates the immediately foreseeable effects of the BGH ruling at 300 million euros.

    According to Fitch, interest income at German banks makes up 65 percent of total income.

    Due to the negative interest rates of the European Central Bank (ECB), however, interest income is falling.

    Although the German banks increased their fees by 35 percent in the five years up to the end of 2020, the decline in earnings due to the unfavorable interest rate environment was not offset to any significant extent.

    In addition, the Fitch analysts fear extremely high fee repayments.

    They refer to a statement made by Raimund Röseler, the top banking supervisor of the German financial supervisory authority, BaFin.

    At the BaFin annual press conference in mid-May, he said that the BGH ruling could be really expensive for banks and, in the worst case, cost some institutions half of their annual net income.

    In the long term, the Fitch analysts can also imagine an impact on customer loyalty if these fee increases had to be explicitly approved in the future.

    As a result, financing through customer deposits could be more prone to fluctuations and thus more difficult to calculate.