By PETER EGWUATU
As the N65 charge on the use of other banks’ Automated Teller Machines, ATMs commenced last week, as announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, customers have been cautious on its usage as most customers used their banks’ATMs.
A visit to some of the banks last week showed that about 95 per cent of the people seen withdrawing money from the ATMs was customers of their respective banks.
When asked why they prefered to remain in queue instead of utilising other banks’ ATMs where there were fewer queues, the customers said that they were avoiding the N65 extra charges as announced by the CBN.
The CBN had explained that the introduction of fees on Remote –On-Us ATMs was a result of the abuse in the use of ATMs , which provided additional costs to the banks.
Therefore, with the introduction of N65 charge on Remote-On-Us ATMs, customers would be very careful in using the ATMs of other banks other than theirs, since it attracts a little fee on the fourth time usage in a month.
However, some people have argued that the introduction of N65 fees on Remote – On –Us will frustrate cashless policy of the apex bank.
According to them “Some customers may result to dealing with cash instead of using ATMs to make payments or settlement.” But, which ever way one looks at it, there is always a cost, either implicitly or directly.
Meanwhile, the CBN had noted that its intention was not to add any extra burden on the customers, rather to ensure that the abuse is eradicated and excessive cost to the banks, eliminated.
It will be recalled that the apex bank noted some public comments on its recent circular in respect of fees/charges on the extended use of other banks’ ATMs.
These reactions have been mixed with most commentators showing great understanding and other stakeholders expressing clear lack of understanding of the rationale for this decision of the Bankers’ Committee.
According to CBN “Our intention in this public communication is to further explain the rationale and the critical need for this measure which has been taken in order to ensure that ATMs across the country continue to function to the satisfaction of all bank customers.
Cash withdrawal at the ATMs of a customer’s bank is free; “Remote-on-Us” transaction is when a card holder goes to the ATM machine of another bank other than his or her own bank to make a withdrawal.”
In December 2012, the CBN, in collaboration with the Bankers’ Committee, transferred the payment of N100 fee on “Remote-on-us” ATM cash withdrawal transactions to issuing banks.
According to CBN, “The N100 was never removed. It was only transferred to customer’s bank to pay, and this was intended to encourage/promote the use of ATMs nationwide.
Having sufficiently raised customers’ awareness, the first three “Remote-on-Us” transactions in a month are free for the card holder but paid for by the issuing bank.
The N65 charge only applies when a customer withdraws cash from another bank’s ATM other than that of his/her bank. The N65 starts to apply from the 4th transaction at another banks’ ATM in a month.
“The charge is not intended to discourage financial inclusion.The CBN will not endorse any anti-customer policy .Charging of fees on interbank networks is a widely acceptable practice globally
On the reasons for ATM charges, the CBN said “ To ensure customers get better services;
To increase healthy competition among the banks.The increased transaction volumes at other banks’ ATM have increased astronomically due to the free cash withdrawal at other banks’ ATM. The wear and tear as well as the frequency of servicing the ATMs have increased significantly. Indeed, some customers were beginning to abuse the use of ATMs through countless daily withdrawals.”
The CBN stated that this development has led to increase in cash transactions, which negate the Bank’s Cash-less policy.
According to CBN “Maintaining ATM is expensive and it requires economic incentive for owners to deploy and maintain these machines.If a part of this cost goes unabated, the banks may be forced to reject transactions coming from their customers at another bank ATMs, thereby frustrating the interoperability of payment systems.”