The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has slashed bank charges which are usually borne by customers as it announced major changes to banking fees in its new Guide to Charges by Banks, Other Financial, and Non-bank Financial Institutions, effective from January 1, 2020 in furtherance of CBN’s quest to make financial services more accessible and affordable to various stakeholders in the economy.
The new guideline was signed by Chibuzo Efobi for CBN Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department.
The CBN reduced cash withdrawal charges from other banks’ Automated Teller Machines ATM from N65 to N35 after the third withdrawal within a month.
According to the CBN, bank customers will now pay N10 for electronic transfers below N5, 000, and N25 for electronic transfer between N5, 000 and N50, 000. Only electronic transfer above N50, 000 will attract N50 charge. Until this announcement, customers paid N50 fees for electronic transfers below N500, 000.
Also, the CBN has 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.
Commenting on the new charges, Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Isaac Okorafor explained that 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.
Also, for cards linked to savings account, a 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.
Furthermore, he hinted that 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.
According to the Director, the CBN carried out the review of the Guide, which also prescribes charges permissible for Other Financial Institutions and non-bank financial institutions, in order to align with market developments.
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.