Czechs love their banks. At the end of 2014, more than CZK 1,900 bil was "saved" in banks. This represents nearly 45% of GDP, or CZK 180,000 (USD 8,000) per person. This is a lot absolutely as well as relatively. While most households in Western Europe put their savings into pensions and investment funds or life insurance, Czechs keep some 80% of their financial wealth in bank accounts. According to the data by OECD, only Turks have relatively more in the banks than Czechs.
Even worse - two thirds of these retail deposits are represented by current accounts, which yield some 0.15% per year. In other words, almost half of our financial property earns just the same as a bundle of cash stuck under the mattress.
In the past, nearly half of Czech banks' interest margin was made on client deposits. But times change. Lower interest rates and a relatively subdued demand for new lending bring a headache to the bank managers too.
Deutsche Skatbank was probably the first bank in Europe to introduce negative interest rates on bank deposits. Although deposits exceeding EUR 500,000 were targeted, the message is clear - force clients to invest their money more actively into products generating some fees.
Time to stir the conservative Czech saver as well?