Commercial banks may lose at least N10 billion in annual revenues following an order by the Nigerian senate for the suspension of ATM card maintenance charges deducted from customers.
Banks currently charge customers N100 yearly as ATM Card maintena
But the senate, in a esolution passed on Wednesday, called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to suspend this fee, describing it as illicit and excessive charges by the banks.
This resolution came as part of a motion on the illicit and excessive bank charges on customers’ accounts, sponsored by Senator Olugbenga Ashafa.
The senate made this known via a tweet on the Senate President’s official Twitter handle @SPNigeria.
Banks make N100 deductions from the account of customers and according to the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), the total number of bank accounts in the country stood at 111.4 million as at June 2018.
The senate also called on commercial banks operating in the country to configure their machines to dispense up to N40,000 per withdrawal pending the outcome of the investigation by the senate committees tasked with investigating the excessive and illicit bank charges.
Speaking on the Motion, the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki said: “This is a motion that affects the lives of every Nigerian — irrespective of what part of the country you come from or whatever political affiliation you might have. This is why we are here: to always defend and protect the interests of the Nigerian people,” Senate President Bukola Saraki said in response to the notion.
The senate must work to ensure that its resolution on the excessive bank charges goes beyond the debate stage, so that whatever action the upper legislative chamber takes, would come into effect, he further said.
“This Senate has done this many times before; when there was a hike in the mobile telecommunication data charges, we intervened and put an end to that. When there were discrepancies and increases in electricity prices, we also took action. We have done this on a number of similar cases. Therefore, on this, I want us to take effective resolutions,” Saraki said.
Other senators who contributed to the debate, called on banks to review their charges.
“The common man is also a victim,” said Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, “Banks declare profits and you wonder where these profits are coming from — it’s from the sweat of the common man. Let us come up with a law that puts banks on their toes,” he said.
“It won’t be out of place to institute a committee that will call on the CBN to tell us what these charges are about. The senate by fiat should abolish charges if they can’t be verified,” said Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah.
“The senate must take a serious stand on this issue. Nigerians are really suffering. The banking system is not encouraging. I had an issue, took it to the bank and was refunded but how many Nigerians can do this? The issue needs to be addressed,” said Senator Kabiru Gaya.
“For me, this is a major step that we are taking. This is because I introduced the first ATM machine that came into Nigeria over 25 years ago,” the Saraki told his colleagues,
“Now, after 25 years, we should have grown out of these excessive charges and moved on. So, I believe that this is something that we must address to create an environment that protects all Nigerians, because these kind of charges in this economy affects everyone,” Saraki stressed.
The senate further directed its Committees on Banking, Insurance & other Financial Institutions and Finance to conduct an investigation into the propriety of ATM card maintenance charges in comparison with international best practices and report back to the it.
It also directed the aforementioned committees to invite the governor of the central bank to appear before it to explain why the official charges as approved by the CBN are skewed in favour of the banking institutions as against the ordinary customers of the banks.
The senate also called on the Consumer Protection Council to look into the various complaints of excess and unnecessary charges by Nigerian banks.