• As CBN cuts charges in revised guidelines

BY EDMOND ODOK, ABUJA – The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has moved to address customers’ concerns over numerous banks’ charges by slashing from N65 to N35 fees on the use of other banks’ Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

According to the apex bank, the N35 ATM charge will only be deducted after the customers’ third withdrawal within a one month period.
The directive, slated to take effect from January 1, 2020, is captured as part of CBN’s policy of making financial services more accessible and affordable to various stakeholders in the economy.
The guide, which seeks to align with market developments, has the apex bank reviewing downward most charges and fees for banking services as contained in the new guidelines to Charges by Banks, Other Financial, and Non-bank Financial Institutions.
Other key highlights of the new Guide to Bank Charges include: the removal of Card Maintenance Fee on all cards linked to current accounts, as well as the order banks to charge a maximum of N1 per mille for customer induced debit transactions to third parties and transfers or lodgments to the customers’ accounts in other banks on current accounts only.

CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor, who disclosed the development in Abuja on Sunday, said also affected by the new policy is the Advance Payment Guarantee (APG) now put at maximum of one per cent (1%) of the APG value in the first year and 0.5% for subsequent years on contingent liabilities.

He said for the debit card charges, the new guide stipulates that a one-off charge of N1,000 applies to the issuance of cards, irrespective of card type (regular or premium), adding that the same one-off charge of N1,000 applies for the replacement of debit cards at the customer’s instance for lost or damaged cards. 

Similarly, the CBN Spokesman said upon expiry of existing cards, customers are to only expected pay the same one-off charge of N1,000 irrespective of card type. 

Explaining that no charge shall be required for pre-paid cards loading/unloading, Okoroafor said the current NIP charges apply to use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), purchase with cash-back will attract a charge of N100 per N20,000 subject to cumulative N60,000 daily withdrawal. 

On cards that are linked to current accounts, he said the maintenance fee has been reduced to a maximum of N50 per quarter from N50 per month amounting to only N200 per annum instead of N600, adding that charges will no longer be taken for reactivation or closure of accounts such as savings, current and domiciliary accounts.

However, status enquiry at the request of the customer (like confirmation letter, letter of non-indebtedness and reference letter) now attract a fee of N500 per request.

Warning of dire consequences for breaches, excesses, unapproved or arbitrary charges by banks and other financial institutions, the policy stipulates a penalty of N2,000,000 per infraction or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time for financial institutions.

Also, in the new guidelines, infractions and non-compliance with the CBN’s directive by any bank to shall attract a further penalty of N2,000,000 daily until the issues are resolved.

In urging financial services providers and their customers to fully acquaint themselves with the guidelines and be properly guided accordingly, the CBN directed banks to log every complaint received from their customers into the Consumer Complaints Management System (CCMS) in addition to generating a unique reference code for each complaint lodged that must be given to the customer. 

It warned that failure to log in and provide the code to the customers amounts to a serious breach and is sanctionable with a penalty of N1,000,000 per breach.

The CBN, which noted that the policy reflect changes in the nation’s business environment, said charges prescribed in the guidelines were outcome of extensive consultations with stakeholders.

This, the apex bank maintained, is meant to enhance flexibility, transparency and competition in the country’s banking sector.

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