Monday, February 8, 2016

#NIGERIANS MUST READ: Uproar over hidden bank charges

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Last week, about four Nigerian banks were listed among the global top 500 banks in the “2016 top banking brands” ranking published in the February edition of The Banker magazine.

While affected banks bask in the euphoria of positive ratings, the public, including regulators and customers are not in the least excited amidst reports that some banks owe their robust financial positions to a deliberate contravention of the policy on charges and commissions.

Continue reading after the cut....
Investigations by Daily Sun showed that, in their desperation for higher profit margins, some banks have continued to defy the directive on the cancellation of Cost of Transaction (CoT) by banks.

It was gathered that over 747 complaints against some banks in the country, involving the sum of N8.09 billion were received by the Central Bank of Nigeria between January-June 2015.

This was contained in the apex bank’s financial report recently released. In the report, CBN stated that this statistics represented 4.48 per cent drop from the previous complaints it received in the first half of 2014.

The apex bank also added that during the period, a total of 481 cases, which included some outstanding ones, were resolved.

However, at the last count, no fewer than 10 identifiable charges were associated with banking activities, which are currently raising concerns among customers of banks.

The charges, in no particular order, include the maintenance fees, which some banks are now charging monthly on current accounts and Value added tax on virtually every transaction by the customer, including SMS.

There are charges for transfers both online and over the counter, Remote-on-us (charges incurred for using other banks’ ATM in withdrawing money more than three times in a month) and recently introduced stamp duties charge.

Banks, besides charging card maintenance fee, have also reviewed upwards the cost of acquiring N600 to N1000, with VAT charge afterwards.

A CBN source said the regulator is still fine-tuning revised guidelines on charges and fees by banks, which expectedly would come out before the end of the first quarter.

A customer in one of the banks listed amongst the 500 banks in the world said the development is “everywhere and all the banks are involved,” adding that banks are terrible when it comes to hidden charges.

Another bank customer, who identified herself as Cynthia, said the charges are confusing and very worrisome now.

“I didn’t notice the deductions until a few weeks ago when I went to make a deposit into my account. I saw my account balance and began to make enquiries. They said the deductions started this year and I wasn’t alone. So many other customers in the banking hall that day were furious,” she said.

Despite the directive from the CBN about not making deductions for the use of ATMs, I am being charged for email alerts, account balance, SMS, ATM usage and another N1,000 for maintenance.

“I made efforts to speak with the manager of the branch where my account is. Her response was that the deductions were not peculiar to me.

“She said it was a directive that they were complying with.”

Since Mr. Godwin Emefiele’s appointment as CBN governor, many reforms have been implemented to protect the banking industry as well as customers who had raised a lot of issues on the services provided by the banks.

- DailySun

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