CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria CBN has slashed charges on Automated Teller Machines ATM, electronic transfers and card maintenance fees paid by bank customers in the country with effect from January 1, 2020.

Under the new guidelines on Charges by Banks and Other Financial Institutions signed by Chibuzo Efobi on behalf of the CBN Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department released on Sunday, customers using ATMs of other banks will now be charged a maximum of N35 after the third transaction within the same month as against the former N65.

The apex bank also directed commercial banks to now charge N10 for electronic transfers below N5, 000, and N25 for electronic transfers between N5, 000 and N50, 000 while only electronic transfers above N50, 000 will attract N50 charge, saying that the new regime is to align with developments in the financial market.

The CBN also 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,

CBN Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor however 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.

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.

CBN declared 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 guideline 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 emphasised 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 emphasised 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.

CBN has 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 attracts a sanction of N1, 000,000 per breach.

Some bank customers, who commented on the new regime, described it as a right step in the right direction but called for effective implementation and monitoring to ensure full compliance. The customers argued that many banks charge other bank customers using their ATMs N65 on the first transaction contrary to the directive of the CBN.

They also cited instances where most of the banks have configured their ATMs to a maximum of N10, 000 for customers from other banks using their machines so as to compel them to make several withdrawals and pay multiple charges.