By Ola Ajayi, from Ibadan
THE Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi hasÂ Â disclosed that the apex bank has concluded arrangements to unveil a definite directive to guide financial institutions that provide Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) services to consumers.
According to Sanusi, the move has become imperative in view of the frequency and brazen nature of identity theft complaints involving the use of ATMs.
The CBN boss who spoke through the Deputy Director, Financial Policy and Regulatory Department, Chris Chukwu, in Abuja at the Consumer Interactive Forum organized by the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to mark the 2010 World Consumer Rights Day, with the theme â€œFinancial Services: Our Money our Rightsâ€, said, â€œthe proliferation of ATMs and the alarming increase in the number and severity of fraudulent activities involving them makes ATM fraud one of the leading consumer complaints coming to CBN.
â€œATM fraud has become a major issue in the banking industry. The new Consumer and Financial Protection Division within the new Financial Policy and Regulation Department has started generating and analyzing data on ATM and other financial frauds.
â€œThe plan is to further sensitize top CBN management to the plight of the consumer in order to articulate industry standard and best practice policies to limit the increase in these financial crimes.
â€œA number of meetings and discussions have been held with various stakeholders with a view to stemming the abuses. The CBN will soon unveil a definite directive to guide financial institutions that provide ATM services to consumers.â€
The Apex bank governor noted that the bank will not rest on its oars until the banking industry was sanitized as well as put in place standard corporate governance, world class transparency and accountability in the sector, adding that consumers must be protected if there must be sound financial sector.
According to him, the CBN will carry greater scrutiny on banks to ensure that they push their products and services down to consumers by requiring banks to fully disclose all rates and charges associated with their products and services, adding, â€œthe CBN understands that the nation will no longer tolerate the rampant incidents of hidden charges built into bank products.
Consumer complaints concerning banksâ€™ hidden charges represent a sizeable percentage of disputes between banks and their customers are receiving the attention of the CBN.â€
In her remarks, the Director-General, CPC, Mrs. Ify Umenyi, said â€œgenerally, consumers complaints in the financial sector, according to our records, border on usage of ATM cards, hidden charges, non issuance of account statements, non full disclosure of consumersâ€™ liability areas; non issuance of share certificates; frustration in the payment of claims and redemption of entitlements in the insurance services; existence of mush-room micro finance banks with substandard and dubious practices and failing mortgage services.â€