Bank of Saipan president and chief executive officer John Arroyo clarified yesterday that they only impose fees on non-customers who cash their checks with the bank—not their account holders.
In an email to the Saipan Tribune, Arroyo clarified the issue after several casino employees said that the bank was charging them a fee when they cash their paychecks that were issued by Bank of Saipan.
“Only non-bank customers are assessed the fee. Customers of the bank are not charged,” said Arroyo, who added that one way to avoid being charged is to open an account at Bank of Saipan.
“This is a fairly easy process and opening new accounts is among our most favorite things we do. Another way to avoid paying the fee is to cash or deposit the check at their bank.”
Arroyo said their non-bank customers told them that they could not easily use the money, that’s why they cash their paychecks at Bank of Saipan. “We’ve heard from non-bank customers that the reason they cash their checks at Bank of Saipan is because their bank refuses to cash their checks or will not give them immediate access to the funds if it is deposited.”
“Instead, their bank recommends they cash the check at the Bank of Saipan and then bring the cash back to their bank if they wish it deposited.”
He added that charging non-customers for cashing their checks is typical among other banks. “The non-customer check cashing fee is a typical fee most banks charge individuals who do not bank with them. It helps to offset the cost of doing business with someone who brings no other business to the bank.”
Arroyo advised employees who are complaining to open an account with Bank of Saipan. “If anything is unfair, it is their bank’s refusal to accept their deposits or cash their checks. Customers who have this kind of relationship with a bank should seriously rethink the value of that relationship. Seems pretty one-sided to me. Become a Bank of Saipan customer and avoid the fee.”
He said that the fee for non-customers cashing their checks applies to all and not only for minimum wage earners like what the casino employees are saying. “All non-bank customers, regardless of their place of employment, have to pay the fee.”
“All non-bank customers, regardless of economic status, will have to pay the fee. Become a Bank of Saipan customer to avoid the fee or deal with their bank’s one-sided check cashing or funds availability policy.”
Arroyo said the fee for non-customers cashing their checks is a policy by other banks. “While this is a new fee for the Bank of Saipan, it is a fee that has been charged by our competitors well before we even considered assessing the fee. In other words, we have held out charging the fee way longer than our competitors.”
He also pointed out that all funds deposited in Bank of Saipan just circulate in the CNMI.
“We do business exclusively in the CNMI, which means the deposits collected in the CNMI remain in the CNMI for the economic benefit of just the CNMI. In other words, the funds deposited in our bank by the people of the CNMI are lent in the CNMI. They are not sent to Guam, Micronesia, or Hawaii to benefit the people and businesses that reside there,” Arroyo said.