Nigerians express concern over bank charges

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NOIPolls, a polling services organisation has in its recent public opinion poll revealed that most Nigerians, 80 per cent of them, are expressing concern over what they refer to as incessant and indiscriminate bank charges levied on their accounts by commercial banks.

The poll, which was necessitated by recent media reports and commentaries on bank charges and deductions from customer accounts without prior communication to customers, also revealed that most Nigerians, 71 per cent, of them consider the various charges as simply unfair in relation to the services rendered by the banks.

Similarly, the poll also found that 72 per cent of respondents say they have been noticing various deductions from their bank accounts.

Those that identified the charges to be in the form of SMS charges were 49 per cent, while those that identified the charges to be in the form of  ATM / Debit Card maintenance were 46 percent and those that say there were wont to be charged 65 Naira after 3 withdrawals per month were 38 per cent.

Despite the offensive bank charges from commercial banks, particularly in this recessionary period, the poll revealed that about 7 in 10 respondents, 76 per cent, were of the opinion that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not done enough to save bank customers from arbitrary charges.

The survey revealed that respondents who seized the opportunity of the poll to urge the CBN to regulate bank charges were 31 percent while the percentage of respondents that compelled banks to reduce transaction charges stood at 28 percent.

It further disclosed that those with extreme views that CBN should scrap bank charges were 23 per cent. These were some of the key findings from the Bank Charges Poll conducted by NOIPolls in the week commencing June 5th, 2017.

NOIPolls, the researcher, noted that the CBN in its 2017 Guide on Financial Charges stipulates that if a new charge is to be introduced, financial institutions should get a prior written approval from the CBN.

It added that the approval should be properly communicated to customers before such new charges are introduced and implemented.

It would be recalled that in March 2016, Mrs Sola Salako ,the President of the Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON), said 400,000 bank users lodged complaints against arbitrary charges by Nigerian banks between June 2015 and December 2015.

Salako, who then made the disclosure to Journalists, stated that the rate at which bank users are complaining about excessive charges was becoming alarming.

The complaints by bank consumers, no doubt, led to the staging of “No Banking Day” protest organised by the advocacy group nationwide.

She at that time told the press that “The protest has become expedient due to constant complain by banks’ customers over excessive charges.” She added that “Nigerians are known to be very tolerant. They will not complain about anything until it gets to an unbearable level, and that “When it gets to a crescendo and you go online, you see people posting their complaints over excessive bank charges.”

The survey added that the CBN, recently reviewed the cashless policy and reintroduced charges on cash deposits and withdrawals.

It noted that despite CBN’s review that a cross section of citizens has been lamenting the unfavourable nature of arbitrary charges by banks.

The research organisation recalled that the negative implication of the charges on struggling Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have also been highlighted over time, and that it was against the backdrop that the poll was conducted to gauge the perception of Nigerians regarding bank charges they have been experiencing in the recent times.

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