There are strong indications that commercial banks are lobbing the Central Bank of Nigeria to restore the N100 ATM service fee, which was earlier suspended by the apex bank in a bid to reduce the financial burden imposed on the customers.
Before the CBN’s suspension of the service charge, bank customers were made to pay N100 ATM maintenance fee for a single cash withdrawal from a machine belonging to another bank.New Telegraph on Sunday learnt that banks had been groaning under the burden of maintaining the ATMs without commensurate charge on customers and had given hints to CBN to consider restoring it.
Giving an insight into the lobby, the Chief Executive Officer, Automated Information Services Ltd, Dr. Bowo Olateru-Olagbegi, told our correspondent that he had credible information that the new CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, was under intense pressure to restore the charge suspended by his predecessor, Mal-lam Lamido Sanusi, to enable them to deploy more machines. “The N100 ATM service charge is coming back.
What the CBN did was to reduce the burden on the customers and allowed the banks to pay the charges as part of their services to the customers due to the fact that the customers are already subjected to other service charges, including COT.
“CBN is the regulator and when it gives a directive, you obey first and then complain and lobby. That’s what the banks are doing, especially now that the new CBN governor has a banking background and understands their plight.
If they don’t generate income from the ATM, they will get it from other charges, such as excess COT. “Top banks are mounting pressure on the CBN to reserve it. Their argument is that the N100 was a bit convenient for customers to pay than joining a long queue in the banking halls.
They argued that the customers were willing to pay and never complained. CBN decided to reduce the burden on the customers,” he said. Olateru-Olagbegi said it costs money to deploy and maintain ATMs, saying these were eating into the banks’ profits.
He said this meant the deployment of fewer ATMs, noting that when the device is turned into an income generating infrastructure, more of it would be deployed. An employee of a leading bank in the country told New Telegraph on Sunday that most banks are losing revenue due to the cancellation of the fee.
He said they were spending their resources on ATM inter-bank settlement and maintenance, which is the resultant effect of excess COT because the banks have to recoup that money in one way or the other.
New Telegraph on Sunday’s efforts to obtain comments from a number of banks failed as several calls put across to their officials were not responded to. They did not also respond to text messages sent to their phones. It was the same with CBN spokesman, Isaac Okoroafor.
However, CBN’s Consumer Protection Department, which responded, said it was not aware of such a plan. “Such information does not exist in this department, and since it is not contained in any circular within this section, it didn’t emanate from the Consumer Protection Department,” the email said.
An ex-President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria and the Managing Director, Maxifund Investment and Securities Plc., Okechukwu Unegbu, said there is nothing wrong with the policy if the banks are lobbying CBN to return the N100 service charge.
He said that everywhere such services are conducted in the world, certain charges are paid to enable them to maintain the machines.
The ex-bank chief said, “I don’t envy the banks. These facilities are expensive to maintain. They are electronic service providers and the owners pay rent where they are installed, pay for installation and security among others.
I don’t see anything wrong in it, more especially, when the CBN wants to stop COT charges. “I wonder why they removed it in the first place.
I have no issues with this but my quarrel is with the banks that still charge COT on that after charging N100 service fee.
But I believe that the fee should be a cost recovery and not another means of milking the customers further.”
In the same manner, a professor of Political Economy and a director at Lagos Business School, Pat Utomi, said he was aware of such policy, saying that such fees are being charged all over the world for ATM transactions.
He said, “Last week in the United States, I used two banks ATM, which are not my banks, and the machines charged me $3 for each of the transactions. So, the service fee is universal. But what is charged depends on how much per a unit of transaction for the shared bank structure. “If the both banks have a shared platform, then, the cost would come to nothing.
So, there is nothing wrong in it coming back.” Also, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who specialises on monetary policy, Mr. Emeka Ngige, urged the CBN not to succumb to pressures from the banks to restore the N100 fee, as such services are what the banks should render to the customers.
He noted that the banks are already making money from a number of sources from the same customers.
The Executive Secretary, Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria and Deputy President, Nigerian Institute of Surveyors, Mr. Akin Oyegbola, the removal of the fee on the customers would make the bank to be on their toes to improve their business, rather than embarking on armchair banking.
“They have made their money. Let them go and look for other legal businesses they can do and make money.
I want the CBN to maintain status quo despite the pressures from the commercial banks,” he added.