Bank customers kick against ATM charges

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria 

Bank customers have faulted the re-introduction of charges on users of automated teller machines (ATMs) in the country, arguing that it is a reflection of the policy somersault that has continued to be the hallmark of successive adminstrations in the country.

Some of the customers accuse the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, of acting a script prepared for him by members of the Bankers’ Committee to assist them in maintaining liquidity.

According to them, the same CBN that is promoting cashless society is also putting in place a measure that will discourage people from using ATM to transact business.

Reacting to the policy which started September 1, the President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo said the new CBN helmsman has demonstrated his anti-customer person.

“By this action, the new CBN governor, to say the least is not consumer-centric. This singular action does not portray him as a CBN governor that will care for consumers of banking services in Nigeria.

“This ATM charge regime is not in line with international best practices (IBP) and is definitely not in the interest of consumers of banking services in Nigeria.

“The N65 ATM withdrawal charge is punitive, excessive profit-driven, exploitative and totally unacceptable as well as being a terrible welcome gift from the new CBN governor to consumers of banking services in Nigeria.

The welcome gift the new CBN governor should be thinking of giving consumers of banking services in Nigeria is bank account portability as it is currently done in other developed economies. He should take a cue from his colleague in the NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, who introduced mobile number portability in Nigeria’s telecoms sector in line with international best practices,” NATCOMS said.

A bank consumer who identified himself simply as David said: “This is the problem with Nigeria and it is the absence of continuity in policy. The former governor who is now a traditional ruler realized that bank customers were being fleeced through flimsy charges. He cancelled the charges only for this former Zenith Bank MD to re-introduce it. It is clear whose interest Emefiele is protecting-the interest of his immediate constituency but it is a great disservice to Nigerians.”

Madam Esther who is a civil servant lamented that she operates a current account with one of the biggest banks in the country but only gets alert on debit.

“When my salary is paid into the account, they will deduct COT. After that, they will continue to make all manner of spurious deduction from the account. SMS costs only N4 but my bank charges me about N70. Now that the new CBN governor has come back with the old charges, it is just another burden that we have to carry,” she said.

Under the new policy, any customer that uses the ATM of bank in which his/her account is not domiciled four times, a charge of N65 will imposed on such customer.

The regulator said it re-introduced the unpopular charges to enable the banks to deploy more ATMs across the country and get resources to maintain them.


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