Several banks will start charging a service fee to count small change soon.
Several banks will start charging a service fee to count small change beginning next month, which will add to the costs of public transport companies.
"Actually we announced a scenario last year to collect the service charges," said Wu Lingyun, an official with the Bank of Shanghai.
"But after communicating with our clients, our bank decided to postpone the implementation to this year."
Several banks including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and the Bank of Shanghai will reportedly start charging the fee on July 1.
Banks will still count less than 500 coins for free. The first 500 coins or small notes in denominations of less than 1 yuan (12 US cents) will cost 4 yuan. An additional 1 yuan will be charged for every additional combination of 300 coins or small notes.
Wu said the move should not be criticized as it is allowed by the China Banking Regulatory Commission, the industry regulator.
Bus companies, however, were expected to be hurt by the service fee since they collect buckets of coins and small notes from bus passengers daily.
"We haven't received formal notice from banks, but I've heard a little," said Li Weitao, an official with Shanghai Dazhong Public Transport Co Ltd, one of the city's biggest bus operators. "If it's true, no doubt it will be a disaster for us."
He estimated that the company may pay hundreds of thousands of yuan in extra bank fees each month.
Dazhong operates more than 6,000 buses and 400 bus lines. Every year the company generates about 1 billion yuan in revenue from bus fares. According to Li, about 20 percent of the cash is in coins.
There are about 18,000 buses in the city.
Bus companies have struggled recently due to high oil prices.
The country raised diesel prices last month in a response to record high crude oil prices.
As most buses are powered by diesel engines, the companies suffered from the price hike.
"Every 0.1 yuan hike in diesel prices will increase our costs 12 million yuan per year," Li said. "But we cannot pass that on to customers, unlike banks or companies in other industries.
"We can't raise bus fares as mass transit is a public utility," added Li.