By Henry Boyo
‘REGRETTABLY, banks seem to perceive customer deposits as a burden which must be taxed, rather than the actual base on which their total lending and ultimate profitability is primarily predicated. For example, with the present mandatory Cash Reserve Ratio of 22.5%, a customer deposit of N1000 will create at least additional N4000 liquidity for the bank to lend out and profit from.
“The irony is that the cost of adopting information technology has steadily declined with mass applications, so it is worrying that these “excessive bank charges” on deposits still subsist, despite the cost advantage, from the significant reduction in cash handling and floor space and the adoption of a less expensive contract Labour force, with vastly improved smart banking transactions Apps and infrastructure. Inexplicably, however, the REGULATOR appears HELPLESS to protect bank customers.” (Oppressive Bank Charges: When Silence is not Golden” – Economic Renaissance, March 25, 2019. See www.lesleba.com and www.betternigerianow.com).
The above is an excerpt from the article published last week in this column. A few rejoinders to that article, and some public comments on banks’ seeming rascality, particularly from the social media, follow hereafter. Please read on.
Dara Usman: “It is quite disheartening that the Nigerian banks as presently designed are not part of the drivers of the economy of this country. The illegal money deduction is enough for them to make huge profit without giving anybody loan. N52.50 per transaction for 1million customers everyday within a year comes to N19bn. ATM maintenance fees and POS deduction come to several billions of Naira. The CBN Governor, Minister of Finance and the Government (should) perform their duties.”
KCU Macebuh: “A good investigative reporting. It just shows that every facet of life in Nigeria is susceptible to corruption in which banks are literally and practically engaged in. The Point of Sales (POS) is the worst. The banks have so crafted the covert fraud to ensure that the amount charged on the declined POS transaction was not large enough to attract one’s visit to the bank, since the bank would most likely not answer phone calls, the customer would forgo the hassle of going to waste time pursuing the matter; furthermore, the bank would not likely reverse the debit without the customer having to go and file a claim. The whole system is pure fraud and there ought to be court injunction against this practice.”
Curtx Maccido: “The banks in Nigeria have been a DISGRACE! Horrible banking services, rogue bankers everywhere, daily unethical deals and stealing from customers with impunity. To be honest, CBN/NDIC should have been scrapped for all these excessive charges carried out by the banks. The more worrisome are Directors who will knowingly guide their banks to steal from customers without regards to the regulations! Even when you complain to the bank and CBN… nothing happens! Clearly the banks and the regulators cooperate to steal from customers! What about SEC – after all most banks are public companies, SEC attitude is worse than CBN/NDIC. EFCC should investigate banking business in Nigeria, most of their Directors including hundreds of CBN/NDIC staff and SEC officials will be jailed! They are bunch of corporate fraudsters!”
Shabadoo: “I have a case at hand with one of the South Africa related banks where I opened a Form M and it took over a year to fulfill. I operate in the IT industry and a year is too long because of many changes, so I had to cancel the LC because the items ordered earlier were nearing expiration and my supplier was out of stock. Surprisingly, the bank claimed that the Central Bank of Nigeria repurchased the USD meant for the LC at a price lower than what they sold to me leaving a gap of about N5m. It is more than a year now, CBN has not responded to my mails and the bank is claiming to be helpless. I am looking at the only available option left as I will never let this go away.”
Sincerity: “I honestly do know, that at the rate at which we are going, very soon many of us will have to be keeping our cash in the homes. I am aware of the risk, but it is worth taking. Imagine putting some amount of money in the bank by some of our uneducated parents and families, with the hope of garnering something at the end of the year only to be told that the money has depleted as a result of Stamp duty charges. If you deposit money thirty times in a month, you have to suffer One thousand Five Hundred Naira depletion. What nonsense! To make matters worse, both savings and current accounts are treated in same manner. How then are we going to encourage savings culture among particularly the have-nots? The earlier the Government does something about this the better. I hope somebody is listening.”
Similarly, Nollywood star, Mercy Johnson Okojie has also called out her bank, for inflicting so many oppressive charges on her account, while noting as follows: “cash handling charge, Vat on cash handling charge, account maintenance fee, stamp duty charge, bill payment charge + VAT, forfeiture interest payment deduction, notification charge, SMS notification charge, ATM Card maintenance fee, NIP charge + VAT on every dime withdrawn, plus days when they just deduct money from your account with no explanation. Is this just me or is this ridiculous? Do we shun banks and do daily contributions (ajo)? What body is responsible for checkmating these senseless charges?”
A UK based Nigerian Medical Doctor, Harvey Olufunmilayo also started a campaign tagged “Reform9jabanks”; in his tweet, Olufunmilayo noted “I have lived in the UK a few years now and NEVER has my bank ever charged me one penny for bank transfer. Never not (for) once.”
Furthermore, a university student, Uthman Samad, explained that “double ATM Card maintenance fee were still being deducted on a lost UBA ATM card which he had deactivated and renewed a year ago.”
“Another user, a student, Emere Ogechi @EmereOgechi, in her tweet also decried how over N1,000 was missing in her account: “It’s painful!, my mum once sent me 5k on a Friday to buy a textbook, I had no ATM Card yet so couldn’t withdraw, but they kept on debiting me all through the weekend and by Monday only N3,900 was left. You should have seen me shouting for them to close the account.”
The cries of agony from tens of millions of bank customers, who have been shortchanged by the system, continue unabated. The attempt by the CBN and the banks to redress this glaring injustice remains feeble and certainly not reassuring. President Buhari, please DO SOMETHING so that Nigerians will see you as a compassionate leader!!!