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CBN, Banks to review bank charges

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The Bankers’ Committee, comprising the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), all the Deposit Money Banks, Micro Finance Banks and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) is reviewing guidelines on new bank charges.

The Director, Banking Supervision of the CBN, Mrs Agnes Tokunbo Martins while addressing journalists yesterday in Abuja, said no final decision has been taken on the guideline for new bank charges.

Managing Director of Access Bank, Aig-Imokhuede, said bank charges cannot stop particularly when lenders are providing value. He however, said the charges will come down this year from N5/mill to N3/mil. He said Commission on Turnover (COT) will continue to reduce to allow bank charges to decline.

He said that the Committee also decided, “no bank customer should pay Automated Teller Machine (ATM) charges, adding that bank customers who use ATM cards on machines other than their bank’s ATM machines, are not expected to pay any charges because, “that is the banks contribution to alleviate some of the problems that bank customers face. Besides, he said that the Committee directed that customers should take up such issue with any bank that charges them for using their ATM.

The Managing Director of Zenith Bank PLC, Godwin Emefiele, said the Committee also reviewed the success of the cashless policy in Lagos and hopes that in due course; it will be replicated in other parts of the country. “But for now, we are concentrating on cluster locations where cash is used predominantly to see how the people can be convinced to go cashless. A date for the movement of cashless policy from Lagos to other parts of the country will be announced later,” he said.

He stated that the Committee also discussed customer identity management to boost consumer credit to borrowers, saying the weakness in extending consumer credit to bank customers, “is that there is no data bank of information on customers.” Consequently, he said the Committee is setting up the customer identity management team that would help to build a data base.

To this end, a bio-metric project where customers are assigned unique identification numbers and thumb prints taken, will soon commence, he said. He added, “once these information is taken, all banks will have access to that information irrespective of where the initial account is domiciled.  Because of the unique identification number, it will now be easy for banks to lend money to customers with good repayment records, or clean slate and those who fail in repaying their loans, will also be easily identified and refused further credit by the banks.”

As part of the cashless project, Emefiele stated it was clarified at the meeting that the N150,000 third party cheque payments is nationwide. He said here will not be any cash payments on third party cheques for sums more than N150,000, and it is not restricted to Lagos.

Aig-Imokhuede added that the banking industry is serious about capturing those outside the banking system through financial inclusion strategies. Consequently, he said the Committee has decided to use Borno as the pilot for financial inclusion, adding that if it works in Borno it will work anywhere in Nigeria. “We will concentrate efforts on Borno state, which was chosen because it is in the North East of the country with its social demographics in terms of poverty, “ added.

Another reason for choosing Borno he noted is because women, youths and those in the rural areas do not have access to financial services, hence the decision of the committee to concentrate efforts in these areas.

The financial inclusion strategy for Borno he said is near finalization. He said with a population of 5 million in 2010, only 280,000 had access to payments, with savings accounting for only 14 per cent of the population. He noted that less than two per cent had access to credit; pensions 2.9 per cent  and less than 1 per cent had access to insurance.

The Bankers’ Committee he said, did not adopt the national averages for financial inclusion for Borno, becuase “the idea is to get the number of ATMs up from 95 today to 770 in 2020, branch networks from 72 bank branches to 120 in 2020  and Point of Sales (PoS) from less than 300 to just under 10,000 by 2020.”

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