Reissued central bank guidelines spark misinformation about bank charges in Nigeria
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Reports from some Nigerian media have claimed that bank charges have been reduced for customers following an alleged review of the fee structure stipulated by the country’s central bank. However, the claim is false: the fees remain unchanged from 2019, when the regulator last updated guidelines on bank charges amid calls to review excessive fees imposed on customers by local commercial banks. Last month, the central bank republished the same set of 2019 guidelines on its website, which some news outlets mistakenly assumed were new and updated.
A Nigerian newspaper, the Daily Independent, claimed in a Newscast that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had waived maintenance fees on Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards.
The report was released on January 28, 2022, a day after the CBN republished its 2019 to guide on bank charges in Nigeria. The guidelines published in December 2019 were implemented in January 2020.
‘JUST IN: CBN scraps ATM maintenance fees, cuts bank fees, etc.’, the newspaper read big title. The report has been viewed more than 15,000 times, according to the website’s page counter.
The same text was also widely circulated on major social networks, including a Facebook page titled “Buharist Reporters” with nearly 250,000 subscribers. AFP Fact Check has repeatedly debunked the posts of the page, which openly supports President Muhammadu Buhari.
Popular security analyst Deji Adesogun also chimed in, calling the alleged changes “good news”. on Twitter. Adesogun included a link to the Daily Independent report.
Other reports have claimed that the CBN has gone even further by reducing a range of other bank charges in 2022.
“CBN cuts ATM withdrawals and interbank transfer fees,” reads the big title of a report on the website of the daily newspaper The Guardian.
Some pro-government social media accounts also latched onto the reports.
“The CBN reduces ATM withdrawal fees and bank transfer fees, ATM withdrawals are now reduced from N65 to N35 after the third withdrawal in the same month, while bank transfers to [a] maximum of N50 per transaction from N300,” reads a Tweeter by Bashir Ahmad, President Buhari’s personal assistant.
However, the claims made in the media are false – there have been no changes to central bank guidelines on service charges or the like since the last review in 2019.
Bank charges unchanged
Both headlines in the Daily Independent and the Guardian give the impression that bank charges have changed again in Nigeria, in line with the expectations of bank customers who have long worried about excessive costs.
In 2018, Nigerians protested under the hashtag Twitter #Reform9jabanks to request a review of several costs associated with the bank, including a monthly maintenance fee of 50 naira on local ATM debit cards. They also accused commercial banks of profiting from the charges.
After Nigerian lawmakers weighed in this area following the outcry, the central bank has revised its policy in 2019. Withdrawal fees at third-party ATMs have been reduced, for example, while the cost of interbank transfers has been reduced to a maximum of 50 naira per transaction from 300 naira.
In addition, the CBN has removed card maintenance fees on current accounts and reduced fees on cards linked to savings accounts to 50 Naira per quarter from 50 Naira per month.
“Card maintenance fees on the checking account have been waived as accounts already incur account maintenance fees,” the CBN explained in a statement. declaration at the time.
The maintenance fee is the amount that each bank card holder pays to cover the cost of acquiring and maintaining ATMs.
AFP Fact Check compared central bank guidelines on bank charges issued in 2019 and 2022, and found them to be identical. The 2019 guidelines represent the latest update, replacing previous versions in 2017 and 2013 as well as the first edition of 2004.
Card maintenance fees
In the 2017 CBN bank fee guide, the maintenance fee for debit cards was 100 naira per month.
However, the charge only applied to non-commercial bank customers, while commercial bank customers were charged 50 naira per month.
In the 2019 guidelines, the CBN waived debit card handling fees for both categories of customers, except for cards linked to savings accounts.
It remains the status quo.
Asked to comment, CBN spokesperson Osita Nwanisobi said only that “what you see on our website is what you should believe”.
AFP Fact Check can therefore confirm that the guidelines published in 2019 were simply republished as is by the central bank in January 2022.