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Slash in transaction fees: Banks shun yearly sms Christmas wishes to customers’

Many Nigerian banks’ account holders and customers’ have taken their anger to social media over commercial banks’ silence in sending out season’s greetings and best wishes via sms this year.

Some of the bank customers’, who vented their anger using social media platforms, linked the strange act by the banks to recent slashing of banking electronic transaction fees.

According to them, the banks decided not to wish their customers well during the 2019 yuletide as a way of displaying their anger over how the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) slashed their incomes in digital payment platforms.

Many customers recalled that previous years, banks normally send out Christmas wishes sms between December 23 and 25 but this year has seen far less than expected

Though checks showed that some banks including Zenith and Stanbic IBTC rather than taking to sms to avoid cost, sent out season’s greetings via bulk email which is relatively free.

However, further check showed that customers of Fidelity Bank received their season’s greetings via sms.

Recall that the CBN had ahead of the Christmas celebration, rolled out cuts in banking transaction charges.

The Director, Corporate Communications at the CBN, Isaac Okorafor, gave further clarifications on the workings of the recent policy review involving cuts in charges payable by different bank account holders, saying “the guide would incentivise stakeholders; especially those making micro payments, to further embrace electronic banking channels, which would improve financial inclusion.”

“It would also reduce cost of banking services to customers to deepen access without much impact on bottom-line of regulated institutions under the purview of the bank, he stated.

He also said the Consumer Protection Regulations which were being released by the CBN alongside the revised Guide to Charges provided clarity on roles and responsibilities of all participants in the industry.

“It sets out minimum standards on fair treatment of consumers, disclosure and transparency, business conduct, complaint handling and redress in order to protect the rights of consumers, hold banks, other financial and non-bank financial institutions accountable and preserve trust in the entire financial system,” he said.

The CBN also stated in its guidelines on consumer protection that any bank that failed to acknowledge the complaints from depositors will pay a fine of N2m, guidelines from the Central Bank of Nigeria, stated.

On the reduced charges on current account and some other services, CBN explained that card maintenance fee on current account had been removed as the accounts already attracted account maintenance fee.

The CBN clarified charges that depositors should know about their accounts with their lenders in its revised guide to charges by banks, other financial and non-bank financial institutions.

Part of the provisions was that a graduated fee scale for electronic transfers would replace the current flat fee of N50.

Accordingly, transfers below N10,000 would attract a maximum charge of N10; transfer from N5,001 to N50,000 would attract N25; and transfers above N50,000 would attract N50.

Savings accounts would attract card maintenance fee of N50 per quarter from N50 per month.

Annual card maintenance fee on FCY denominated cards was reduced to $10 from $20.

Remote on ATM charges were reduced to N35 after third withdrawal within a month from N65.

The charge for hardware token will on cost recovery basis subject to a maximum of N2,500 from previous maximum charge of N3,500.

Fee for SMS mandatory alert will be on cost recovery from previous maximum charge of N4.

Bill payment via e-channels will attract a maximum charge of N500 from 0.75 per cent of transaction value subject to maximum of N1,200.

On complaints from bank customers, CBn made it clear that each week the bank refused to address customer’s complaints within the prescribed timelines, it would also attract a fine of N500,000 per week.

Part of the penalties for violation of the guidelines by institutions as stipulated by the CBN said, “Non-resolution of complaints within prescribed timelines attracts a penalty of N500,000 per complaint per week while the infraction subsists.

“Non-acknowledgment of complaints from customer or non-issuance of tracking numbers attracts N2m per complaint.

“Non-response to request or failure to comply with CBN directive attracts a penalty of N2m.”

According to the apex bank, false or non-rendition of returns/reports, would attract N100,000 fine, in addition, N10,000 for each day the infraction continued.

“Failure to comply with other provisions of the Regulations not specified above shall attract sanctions provided in the CBN Act, the BOFIA, other enabling laws and regulations,” it stated.