Pendum

In response to banks' complaints about a directive banning them from charging foreign ATM fees, the Central Bank of Nigeria spoke up this week to set the record straight. The CBN said the mandate to end the N100 (63 cents) charge had come, not from the central bank, but from the Bankers Committee, which is made up of the banks' own directors.

In a telephone interview with This Day, CBN director of corporate communications Ugochukwu Okoroafor said that banks themselves had agreed to discontinue the charge and make ATM use entirely fee free in Nigeria. He said the CBN's only role had been to encourage banks to consider their customers' interests.

According to a report by All Africa, First Bank managing director Bisi Onasanya said the move reflected "popular trends" seen globally. But it also supports the Nigerian government's cashless initiative, which seeks to bring unbanked Nigerians — and their money — into the banking system, and to encourage Nigerians only to carry as much cash as they need day-to-day. The lack of ATM fees is a persuasive factor in the government's message to the unbanked.

Not that all banks are following the no-fee mandate. An article by Sun News Online said that two weeks after implementation of the ban, some ATM cardholders are still being charged for inter-bank transactions.

Sun News said it had visited ATMs of various banks in three different locations and found that the ATM screens were still advising users that they would incur the N100 charge. Bank workers told the publication that it would take some time to revise their systems to comply with the new policy.

Meanwhile, the Sun said, Okoroafor had been quoted as saying that CBN would monitor progress toward universally fee-free ATMs and would continue to urge non-compliant banks to abide by the Bankers Committee mandate. 

For more on this topic, visit the regulatory issues research center.

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