Mixed reactions have continued to trail the recent reintroduction of financial bank charges on certain categories of cash deposits and withdrawals, by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In a bid to enhance its cashless initiative, the apex bank in a circular signed by Director, Banking and Payments System Department, CBN, Mr. Dipo Fatokun, to all Deposit Money Banks, explained that the decision to reintroduce the charges on cash deposits was part of the review of charges on deposits and withdrawals under the cashless policy.
The recent Bankers’ Committee meeting decision was that the cashless policy should be extended to the remaining 30 states of the federation with imposed charges of 1.5 per cent and two per cent on deposits and withdrawals above N500,000- N1 million on existing states.
However, this development has attracted divergent views from industry analysts, economists and financial experts, among many others.
Reacting by phone over the weekend on the new banks charges, the President, Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN) and former Registrar, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), Dr. Uju Ogubunka, told our correspondent that banks were not established to charge customers.
According to him, “Banks in the past have been charging customers. CBN is increasing or reintroducing the threshold. Many of us felt it is not right and I believe it is not right to charge bank customers that want to deposits or withdraw money, especially when CBN is talking about financial inclusion and financial literacy.
“The importance of financial inclusion is to bring more customers into the saving culture but with multiple charges, it might discourage depositors. When CBN starts charging customers, it is expected they withdraw their money and invest in other things.”
He noted CBN had introduced series of charges in the past to drive cashless society.
“The charges were an attempt to compel bank customers to oblige. Nobody can say it is right because the money belongs to customer. Yet, banks collect other charges that include Account Maintenance Fee, among others,” he said.
In a contrary view, the Managing Director, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said the policy would drastically reduce money laundry in the financial sector and reduce movement of cash.
Chukwu said, “The cashless policy has been on for 10 years and was suspended at some point. The charges also were suspended. I think one of the reason it was suspended was because to allow roll out of technology to support the innovation.
“Today, we have advanced technology across the country to handle cashless policy of CBN. The CBN resuming the cashless policy is good and it will drastically reduce money laundry in the financial sector.
“It will be easy to control illicit funds including funds that go to kidnappers especially. I think it is a good thing CBN will resume the charges effective from April.”
He noted that the charges would encourage financial inclusion, given a reduced volume of cash in the banking system.
“I want to think the new charges will encourage bank customers to adopt electronic-banking system,” he explained.
According to the circular, individuals depositing or withdrawing between N1m and N5million will be charged two per cent and three per cent, respectively.
For amounts above N5million, banks will charge such individuals three per cent and 7.5 per cent for deposits and withdrawals, respectively.
With regard to corporate customers, the CBN stated that deposits and withdrawals under N3million would not attract any charge, but that such customers depositing or withdrawing between N3million and N10million would be charged two per cent and five per cent, respectively.
Also for deposits and withdrawals between N10million and N40million, customers will be charged three per cent and 7.5 per cent, respectively. Deposits or withdrawals above N40million by corporate customers will attract a charge of five per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.
According to the CBN, the new policy on charges will be implemented in selected states on May 1 and August 1, this year; while the total implementation will be concluded on October 1.