CBN Slashes ATM Withdrawal Fee To N35, Warns Against Arbitrary Bank Charges

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), at the weekend published its guideline on bank charges, which among others, graduated bank charges for electronic funds transfer which effect from January 1, 2020, among others.

According to the circular titled: guide to charges by banks, other financial and non-bank financial institutions,” for example, fees for use of third-party automated teller machines will be N35, instead of N65, after the third withdrawal within the same month.

According to the accompanying circular signed by Chibuzo Efobi, for Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, the guideline, which was revised in 2013 and 2017, “has become necessary in the light of innovations in product and/or channels and new industry participants… (and) in response to further evolution in the financial industry over the last few years.”

Over-the-counter cash withdrawals shall attract no charge also, so long as it is below the set withdrawal/lodgment limits set by the apex bank.

Cost for withdrawals from international machines will be at the exact cost charged by the machine owner international acquirer), just as mandatory SMS will be at a cost, while bank induced transactions will no longer attract charges. Customers who choose not to receive SMS alerts are however to issue an indemnity for losses that may arise as a result of their choice to the bank.

Also, rather than a flat N50 charge for all electronic transfers, the banks are now to charge N10 for funds transfers from below N5,000; N25 for between N5,001 and N50,000; while any amount above that threshold will now attract a fee of N50.

While Naira debit and credit cards linked to current accounts will attract no charges, those linked to savings accounts will now attract a maximum of N50 quarterly maintenance fee, unlike what currently obtains where banks charge a card maintenance fee of N52.50 monthly, RTGS Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS) will now cost N950 only.

Banks are now allowed to charge N1,000 one-off fee when issuing or replacing lost cards, irrespective of type; just as interest charges remain negotiable.

Prepaid card loading/unloading, as well as withdrawal from issuing bank’s ATM, will continue to be at no cost.

The CBN also requires that there be no charges for reactivation or closure of accounts, whether savings, current or domiciliary, just as the mandatory monthly issuance of a statement of account on current and savings accounts. Special request for a statement of accounts will cost a maximum of N20 per page.

When a cheque is returned for reasons other than the account being unfunded, there shall be no charge, but will attract 1% of the amount, or N5,000, whichever is higher to be borne by drawer only. This is however without prejudice to the Dud Cheque Act.

The guideline warns that financial institutions that breach any provisions of the guideline shall be liable to a N2m penalty per infraction, or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time.

“Failure to comply with CBN’s directive in respect of any infraction shall attract a further penalty of N2,000,000 daily until the directive is complied with or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time.

“Banks are required to log every complaint received from their customers into the Consumer Complaints Management System (CCMS) and must generate a unique reference code for each complaint lodged, which must be given to the customer. Failure to log and provide the code to the customer amounts to a breach and is sanctionable with a penalty of N1,000,000 per breach,” among others.