Sunday, December 22, 2019 5:35 pm
Complaints over bank charges have risen to the high heavens by many concerned Nigerians. Now, they can heave a sigh of relief. A revised “Guide to Charges by Banks, Other Financial and Non-Bank Financial Institutions” has been released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to the document: “In a bid to encourage financial inclusion and to reduce the burden of bank charges on consumers of financial service, CBN has issued a revised Guide to Charges by Banks, Other Financial and Non-Bank Financial institutions in response to the evolution in the financial industry over the last few years.
“CBN new guide includes, amongst others, downward review of charges for electronic banking transactions; review of other bank charges to align with market developments, and inclusion of new sections on Accountability/Responsibility and a Sanction Regime to directly address instances of excess, unapproved and/or arbitrary charges.
“The revised Guide to Charges by Banks, Other Financial and Non-Bank Financial Institutions takes effect on January 1, 2020,” CBN stated.
According to the CBN guide obtained by TNG, bank customers will now pay N10 for electronic transfers below N5,000, N25 for electronic transfer between N5,000 and N50,000, and N50 for electronic transfers above N50,000. Previously, bank customers had to pay N50 charge for electronic transfers below N500,000.
Further, the CBN in the new Guide to Bank Charges slashed charges for cash withdrawal via Other bank’s ATM to “maximum of N35 after the third withdrawal within the same month” from “N65 after the third withdrawal within the same month”.
The CBN also, according to the report, removed Card Maintenance Fee (CAMF) on all cards linked to current accounts, a maximum of one Naira per mille for customer induced debit transactions to third parties and transfers or lodgments to the customers’ account in other banks on current accounts only,
However, the current NIP charges apply to use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).
For cards linked to savings account, 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.
The report by TNG has it further: “Furthermore, there will be no more charges for reactivation or closure of accounts such as savings, current and domiciliary accounts while status enquiry at the request of the customer (like confirmation letter, letter of non-indebtedness and reference letter) will now attract a fee of N500 per request.
On Current Account Maintenance Fee (CAMF), the Guide expressly stated that this would be applicable only to current accounts in respect of customer-induced debit transactions to third parties and debit transfers/lodgments to the customer’s account in another bank. It emphasized that CAMF is not applicable to Savings Accounts.
To guard against excess, unapproved or arbitrary charges by banks and other financial institutions, the Guide stipulates a penalty of N2,000,000 per infraction or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time for financial institutions that breach any provision of the guide.
The Guide also emphasized that failure by any bank to comply with CBN’s directive in respect of any infraction shall attract a further penalty of N2,000,000 daily until the directive is complied with or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time.
Consequently, 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, which must be given to the customer.
Failure to log and provide the code to the customer, it added, amounts to a breach and is sanctionable with a penalty of N1,000,000 per breach.
The charges prescribed in the Guide were arrived at after extensive consultations with stakeholders and is expected to enhance flexibility, transparency and competition in the Nigerian banking industry.
This Guide, which replaces the Guide to Charges by Banks and Other Financial Institutions issued in 2017, takes effect from January 1, 2020, and maybe reviewed from time to time to reflect changes in the business environment.
The CBN, therefore, urged financial services providers and their customers alike to acquaint themselves with the provisions of the Guide and be properly guided accordingly.”