The first bank board members are apparently changing the tone on the subject of custody fees, deposit fees and negative interest rates for savers.

Just a week ago, many banks had expressed reluctance to the question of whether they in turn wanted to abolish negative interest rates for savers if the European Central Bank (ECB) abolished their negative interest rates for banks.

The question could then be asked again when the time comes, Commerzbank had announced.

Christian Siedenbiedel

Editor in Business.

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Now on Thursday, Commerzbank board member Bettina Orlopp made at least a little more binding statements.

"If there are now also interest rate increases in the euro area, we will gradually adjust the credit fee," she said.

But first we have to wait and see which course the European Central Bank (ECB) will take.

"That's a promise"

ING CEO Nick Jue even said in the "Handelsblatt": "As soon as the European Central Bank adopts its negative interest rate policy, we will no longer charge custody fees for private customers, that's a promise." is still too early to clarify this question.

In view of persistently high inflation, many economists are now expecting a turnaround in interest rates in the euro area in the current year.

Jue assumes that the ECB will tighten its monetary policy in such a way that negative interest rates for banks in the first quarter of 2023 could be a thing of the past.

"That would be the time when we would cancel the custody fees for our customers," said the ING Germany boss.

The direct bank currently requires a so-called custody fee from its customers for 50,000 credits per account.

The association of cooperatives, which represents Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks in all federal states with the exception of Bavaria and Baden-W├╝rttemberg, also does not expect the institutes to retain custody fees in the long term.

"No bank has a vested interest in these custody fees," said the association's deputy chairman, Siegfried Mehring, on Friday in Neu-Isenburg.

He expects that to be turned back when the interest rate landscape has changed.

"In principle, I would expect that," said Mehring.

"But at the moment we are still speculating about the turnaround in interest rates, we still have the negative interest rate environment."

Some banks are announcing in no uncertain terms that they will stop charging their customers on the day the ECB abolishes their negative interest rates.

Josef Paul, the former head of Raiffeisenbank Gmund am Tegernsee, who was one of the pioneers of negative interest rates in Germany, said: "When the ECB ends negative interest rates, we will stop calculating the custody fee at the same time." The Deutsche Skatbank in Thuringia, another negative interest pioneer, has announced that it intends to pass on the ECB's easing of negative interest rates to customers.

And the Sparkasse Leipzig announced that if the ECB deposit rate rises to zero, then no more custody fees will be charged.

581 banks with negative interest rates

Hans-Peter Burghof, banking professor in Stuttgart, thinks that the banks would actually bury the negative interest rates "with a kiss."

After all, the trouble with customers and the legal risks are great.

But the end of negative bank interest rates will not necessarily come with the ECB, but rather when the banks themselves find attractive investment opportunities for their money again.

As can be seen from an evaluation by the consumer portal Biallo, 561 banks and savings banks in Germany are now charging private customers negative interest;

There are 581 for corporate customers.

The number has risen to this high over the years since 2014, but the increase has slowed somewhat recently.

There were initially very high allowances for savers.

However, over time they have been reduced.

The analysis by Biallo shows that most of these are currently 50,000 euros or less, but with a high number of unreported cases.

However, almost 14 percent of all banks now grant an allowance of just 10,000 euros or less.