The Senate has launched the probe of commercial banks across the country over excessive charges on their customers’ accounts.
In order to effect the ongoing probe, the ninth senate mandated the Senator Uba Sani, All Progressives Congress (APC), Kaduna Central-led Committee on Banking, Insurance, and other Financial Institutions, to carry out a holistic investigation into the matter.
Similarly, the Senate also directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to look into the bitterness of Nigerians in this regard and review the charges on their bank accounts.
Unmask understands that the senate’s decision to probe the banks is a sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Abba Moro, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Benue South.
In the presentation of his motion, Senator Moro said, “The Senate: Notes with great concern that there have been several complaints from Nigerians over illicit and excessive charges by Nigerian Commercial Banks on customers’ accounts;
“Aware that such charges and deductions range from bank SMS charges, intra- bank transfer charges in the sum of N52.50 Kobo, ATM Card renewal charges, account maintenance charges in the sum of N93.13 Kobo, etc;
“Deeply concerned that these charges being deducted from customers’ accounts by Banks have caused an uproar within the public as Nigerians have expressed their dissatisfaction and displeasure over such excessive deductions which they feel are fraudulent and targeted at further impoverishing Nigerians;”
According to him, the Senate “Recalls that in April 2017, the Central Bank of Nigeria revised the card maintenance charges in the new guide released from N100 annually to N50 monthly. This means that every debit or credit card holder will pay the sum of N600 annually;
“Further recalls that according to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the central database for banking transactions in the country showed that as at September 30, 2016, there were 29.4 million active cards being used by the 63 million active bank customers. Thus, Bank Customers in Nigeria will pay not less than N1.462 Billion to Banks as card maintenance charges every month, totalling about N17.544 Billion in a year;
“Deeply disturbed that questions are being asked by Nigerians as to what the money being deducted for the charges is for as countries overseas do not charge their customers in like manner;
“Of further concern is the N65, withdrawal charge on a cardholder who uses his/her ATM card on another Banks ATM. The first three transactions are free while every other transaction afterwards attracts a N65 charge per transaction;
“Concerned that Nigerian banks in a bid to further extort customers have set most of their ATM machines to dispense cash below the maximum sum of N40, 000.00 ATMs are programmed to dispense per transaction. Thus customers using the ATM machines do not have a choice than to withdraw much lesser amounts per transactions thereby incurring the additional cost of N65 Naira per transaction after using another Bank’s ATM machine beyond three times;
“Regrets that as was the norm when ATM MACHINES were first introduced in Nigeria while using the ATM there are instances where an ATM card gets stuck in the ATM MACHINE. The procedure then was for the cardholder to lay a complaint in the Bank and his ATM card would either be given to him or sent to a branch of his choice;
“Saddened that in recent times, rather than Banks giving out ATM Cards stuck in their machines back to the cardholder, such cards are shredded into pieces and the cardholder has to reapply for another ATM CARD which attracts the sum of #1000. We can imagine the number of Nigerians who have experienced their cards being stuck in the Machine and having to pay#1000 over again for re-issuance which was not even their fault abinitio; and
“Embarrassed that this issue of high Bank charges has made Nigerians home and abroad take to social media to lament their bitter experiences in the hands of Commercial Banks, accusing them of exploitation.”
The menace of excessive charges by banks
For years now, excess bank charges have been a menace that banking customers have been dealing with, in the financial sector. This menace has become more prevalent in recent times.
The banking industry’s regulators and supervisors – CBN and Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC)– have since been trying to find solutions, especially through the issuance of regulatory guidelines on bank charges and interventions when there are complaints.
However, while guidelines are in place, the situation remains largely unchanged.
In view of complaints from bank customers monitored by Unmask NG, it has been discovered that financial institutions still find ways to short-change their innocent customers.