BY UDEME CLEMENT
The commercial banks doing business in Nigeria may lose millions of naira to the new regime stopping them from charging customers N100 for using Automated Teller Machines (ATM) per transaction.
Under the outgoing regime, a customer using the ATM of another bank is charged N100 per transaction. The banks, under the Bankers Committee, after a meeting in Abuja, recently opted to stop the fee, saying it was a sacrifice they have to make to ease the pains of their customers.
The Group Managing Director, First Bank Plc, Mr. Bisi Onasanya, said the decision will help to increase the patronage of ATMs in the country.
He said, “When you use the ATM of a bank other than your bank, there is a charge of N100, which is borne by the account holder. We have decided that we will work out the modality and ensure that with immediate effect we will pass on this cost to respective banks to bear the cost of providing services.”
He added, “No matter where you are withdrawing your money from, you will not be subjected to any charge for using the ATM. The new policy does not cover withdrawals inside the banking hall when the ATMs are off. But for transaction on what we call ‘not on us,’ when you are a customer with First bank, you can use the ATM of a GTB bank, it is free and you will no longer bear any cost”.
Sunday Business learnt that the new regime on the ATM will cost the banks a fortune. For instance, Sunday Business gathered that Zenith Bank may lose up to N7million every week on its ATM located at Murtala Mohummed Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2), Lagos. And the bank has scores of ATM located across Lagos State, generating as much money as the one at MMA2, not to talk of others across the country.
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has declared that the recent announcement on the suspension of N100 charge was a decision taken by banks and not CBN’s policy as widely speculated in the last two weeks.
The removal of ATM charge is coming only few months after CBN warned commercial banks on what it described as arbitrary bank charges on customers. Sunday Business gathered that the banks are going to lose millions of naira monthly once the implemented of this new directive begins.
“A female branch manager with Diamond bank, Ojodu, who spoke under anonymity said, “We are spending so much money just to stay afloat in the business. For instance, we provide electricity daily to run our business, which is taking so much from us. Aside from generating our own power, we spend money to ensure we operate daily with the latest technology and we have a lot of staff to pay salary at the end of every month.”
“The essence of being in business is to make profit. The banks must improve their margins in order to meet up with daily expenses of running the business. For example, the amount of money we spend in generating electricity alone is telling so much on our overhead cost. So, at the end of the day, we transfer this cost to customers in form of bank charges.”
A staff in Zenith bank, Ikeja branch said, “We are going to lose over N7million every week from our ATM located at MMA2 because that is where we have many transactions daily. For instance, if we have 1,000 ATM transactions in a day, it means we are going lose about N1million. The money we charged for ATM is what we use in maintaining the machines. So, with the new directive, it means the bank is going to bear the cost directly.”
A Customer with Zenith Bank, Mr. Saviour Aluede, with Sass Global Limited, who spoke with Sunday Business at MMA2, explained that the banks are yet to implement the new policy. He said, “I just made withdrawal with the Zenith bank ATM and they charged me N100, which means they banks have not started implementing this policy. We are paying so much for bank charges on daily basis, CBN should ensure that the removal of ATM charge is adequately implemented by deposit banks as a way of giving back to the customers.”
Mr. Sulayman Bello, an economic expert, who spoke with our correspondent at First bank, Navy Town branch, said the banks are charging customers for every transaction and should be able to remove ATM charge to encourage customers.