The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Monday, said the latest slash in electronic bank transfer charges would significantly boost financial inclusion in the country.
Explaining the latest reduction in the cost of various services to customers, the apex bank noted data from the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System NIBSS showing that between June and November this year, electronic transfers below N10,000 accounted for 61% of the number of transactions.
This, according to a statement by Isaac Okorafor, director, corporate communications at the CBN, “is a confirmation that the reduction of the charges for micropayments has huge potential for financial inclusion.”
The guide is expected to incentivize stakeholders, especially those making micropayments, to further embrace electronic banking channels, thus improving financial inclusion. It will also reduce the cost of banking services to customers to deepen access without much impact on the bottom line of regulated institutions under the purview of the CBN.
The NIBSS data, the CBN statement continued, shows that PoS transactions increased by 4,692% between 2012 and 2018 from N48.46bn to N2.3tr, while electronic transfers increased by 1,967% from N3.8tr to N80.42tr, meanwhile, paper-based cheque transactions declined by 32% from N7.48bn to N5.03bn.
The revised Guide to Charges, he stressed, is yet another move by the CBN to build an inclusive banking system that adequately caters for the needs of the banking public whilst preserving the financial sustainability of banks, other financial and non-bank financial institutions.
He listed highlights of the guide as including “a graduated fee scale for electronic transfers to replace the current flat fee of N50. Accordingly transfers below N5,000 will attract a maximum charge of N10; transfer from N5001 – N50,000 -N25; and transfers above N50,000- N50.”
Others include the removal of card maintenance fee on current account, since such accounts already attract account maintenance fee, while savings accounts will now attract card maintenance fee of N50 per quarter from January 2020, as against the present N50 per month; in addition to reduction in annual card maintenance fee on foreign currency denominated cards by 50% to $10 from $20. Charges on the use of third-party Automated Teller Machines (ATM) have been reduced to N35 after third withdrawal within a month, from N65; just as the fee for SMS mandatory alert will be on cost recovery from the previous maximum charge of N4, among others.
Such renewed efforts are expected to enhance the achievement of the nation’s financial inclusion goals faster than it has been since 2012.
For example, financial inclusion (according to EFINA, financial inclusion increased to 63.2% as of December 2018 from 60.3% in December 2012) and the increased use of electronic payments across several channels by bank customers.