A post office in Jerusalem.
Isn't there someone who supervises the Post Bank so that those who keep money in it can sleep peacefully at night? (Photo: Walla! system, Yanon Shalom Yathach)
The Postal Bank was for decades Israel's social bank, without branding and without an official title.
It gave the weakest populations the possibility to manage a bank account without threshold requirements for acceptance, and with extremely low fees, minimal account management fees and one strict limitation: you must not go into the red.
Last week, the Israel Post Company announced that the bank would begin charging fees for services provided for free or at a very low rate (such as depositing a check and transferring to an account), and for other services, previously provided at a nominal price.
The deterioration of conditions is the visible part of the comprehensive recovery process that Israel Post is going through on the way to privatization.
The hidden part, the one that hasn't been published, should worry those who put their money on the antlers of the red deer.
The 600,000 citizens who hold accounts at the Postal Bank are not aware that in recent months their money is not under the required supervision of financial services, the number of employees who are supposed to handle them has been reduced to a third and the bank's computer system and customer service have been merged with those of the postal company.
Some customers complain about long waiting times for e-mail inquiries and insufficiently professional telephone responses.
On the suffering of Post Bank customers due to the increase in fees and branch closures
The Post Bank is mainly used as a cash register, but is it possible to manage the money of 600,000 customers without close supervision? (Photo: ShutterStock)
obvious and immediate danger
"The customers' money is in real danger," says an official at the Lavala Post Bank.
"There is no audit unit and no finance unit, there is no one to check if there are any unusual operations in the accounts. For the past two years, the postal administration has been disbanding the postal bank. The computer services, the customer service department and the call center were merged with the postal company.
The supervision of the bank was also merged with the postal company, and if before There was 100% focus on the bank, today it is maybe 40%.
"We were a company with 240 employees and today there are barely 70, on 600,000 bank accounts.
The customers are neglected and no one cares.
We emptied the bank.
The inspector, who is an employee of the Ministry of Communications, aligned himself with the previous minister and did what he wanted - and instead of doing his job, he abandoned the bank.
The record is that a new CEO has now been appointed to the bank, with a salary of tens of thousands of shekels per month. Why pay such huge sums, why has it become a division within the postal company? The main thing is to distribute jobs. The employees see what is happening and it hurts them also for their workplace and especially for the customers , that they have no idea what's going on."
More in Walla!
KKL-Junk encourages climate studies through scholarships for young students
In collaboration with KKL-Junk
Compared to a normal commercial bank, this is small money.
The problem is that for many of the account holders at the Post Bank, this is all they have (Photo: ShutterStock)
The Post Company, a subsidiary of Israel Post, is a government company that began operating in March 2006, through a license granted to it by virtue of the Postal Law and is subject to the supervision of the Government Companies Authority and the Ministry of Communications.
The Postal Bank is not a regular bank and is not subordinate to the Bank of Israel and its supervision is done through a special inspector.
According to the provisions of the law, the bank is a separate legal entity for the matters of keeping the customers' money.
According to the Postal Law from 2012, it was determined that there will be a complete structural separation between the Postal Company and the Postal Bank, through a series of instructions for its conduct, in order to increase the supply of financial services and provide it with equity capital and fortify its financial strength.
A report by the State Comptroller from 2018 found that, in typical Israeli conduct, the provisions of the law were not implemented by the ministries of finance, the media and the postal company, the equity issue was not settled and none of this prevented the next step decided by the government - the privatization of Post Bank. If the bank Not independent and not providing a variety of services, its value does not increase and the return on the future privatization, announced by the government (which is also supposed to monitor the implementation of the laws enacted by the Knesset), will be smaller.
The outgoing Minister of Communications, Yoaz Hendel and the incoming Minister of Communications.
The intention behind the reform introduced by Handel may be good, but in practice it hurts the customers of the Post Bank, from the weakest strata (photo: Ministry of Communications spokespeople)
Who sees the poor customers?
The auditor also found in his report that, contrary to accepted accounting principles, the Postal Bank does list the revenues - but for some reason there is no breakdown of the expenses. In addition, the customer service at the branches and the call center was poor in quality, availability and speed. In his conclusions, the auditor stated that the Ministries of Finance and Communications We need to regulate the status of the bank, in order to strengthen it, promote and improve the quality of service and increase the control of the Postal Bank, especially the financial control.
Five years have passed since the publication of the audit report and the situation, as mentioned, has only gotten worse - and all in the name of privatization led by the former Ministers of Communications and Finance , Yoaz Handel and Avigdor Lieberman, which should end in the sale to a private party at the end of 2023.
Instead of structural separation and regulation of the bank's status, it was incorporated into the postal company, and although it is still defined as a "subsidiary" it functions as a division and not as an independent financial entity.
The entry of the new CEO, Merav Spectorovsky Sasson, into her position, with a salary of over NIS 40,000 and for less than a year, is puzzling. Although she comes from the digital field, her contribution to the dying bank is not really clear.
It is likely that if the Post Bank's customers were tycoons and business companies large, and not a weakened public who needs his services when he has no other alternative, no one would dare to underestimate them and thus abandon the supervision of their money.
Post Bank: "Nearly 2,000 employees at the post office provide service to Post Bank customers every day." (Photo: Public Relations)
The responses of the Ministry of Communications and the Postal Authority
The Ministry of Communications stated in response
: "These days the Israel Post Company is in the midst of a revolutionary reform that includes recovery and privatization procedures, even after which the Postal Administration at the Ministry of Communications will continue to monitor the activities of the Post Company and the Post Bank. The reform is intended to improve and optimize postal services by switching to digital services and fast services and further progress is being made, so that the need for personnel will be significantly reduced.
Therefore, as part of the recovery plan, some of the branches of the Post Bank were consolidated. Also, the telephone customer service operates as usual and stands at 49 hours of operation per week. In addition, through the application of the Post Bank it is already possible today to A host of actions that save getting to the branches."
Delivered from Israel Post
: "The Post Bank serves nearly 600,000 account holders and a broad public of occasional customers, through service representatives and POS services that are available in more than 400 post offices throughout the country, in a dedicated call center, and through a professional, technological and financial setup at the company's headquarters. In total, close 2,000 employees at the post office provide daily service to Post Bank customers."
the postal company