Five commercial banks operating in Nigeria have recorded a whopping N12.2 billion from account maintenance charges in the first half of 2018, The Daily Times findings revealed.
The five commercial banks are FBN Holdings, Diamond Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Sterling Bank Plc and First City Monument Bank Group Plc (FCMB).
The banks in prior six months of 2017 had raked N9.2 billion for account maintenance charges on customers’ savings, current and term deposit.
Out of the five lenders considered in this report, FBN Holdings leads with active customers’ accounts at FirstBank Limited reaching N13.1 million as at 2017 leads others in value generation while Diamond Bank reported drop in customers account maintenance fee in six months under review.
The group, FBN Holdings N5.96 billion account maintenance charge and handling commission in six months of 2018, an increase of about 40.7 per cent from N4.2 billion in six months of 2017.
In six months of 2018, Sterling Bank reported 41.8 per cent increase in customers account maintenance to N939million as against N662 million, while Diamond Bank ‘s account maintenance dropped to N1.9 billion, 12.4 per cent below N2.15 billion reported in six months of 2017.
Also, Union Bank of Nigeria reported an increase of 13.6per cent in account maintenance fee moving up to N809 million from N712 million reported in six months of 2017.
Lastly, FCMB account maintenance charges closed six months of 2018 at N1.61 billion, an increase of 10.2 per cent from N1.46 billion in six months of 2018.
Commenting on this development, President Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN), Dr. Uju Ogubunka, urged the CBN to reconsider the account Maintenance charges.
In his words, “We had sent a letter to CBN on account Maintenance charges. The CBN cannot stop one charge and introduce other charges on the same bases- which mean CBN is indirectly introducing the one we had complained about.
“I don’t see the need for banks to earn that income. Banks took those money from customers and I will suggest CBN to reconsiders the account Maintenance charges again.
“These funds can be used to develop a lot of things. I believe it is not right for banks to charges customers on maintaining their accounts.”
Reacting also, President & Found, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON), Sola Salako, said charges on account maintenance is a fraud, stressing that CBN is helping banks to make money from doing nothing.
She emphasized that the account maintenance fee is worst than CoT.
According to her, “banks decided to charge customers any per cent and I hold CBN responsible. CBN is not checking the percentages banks are collecting from their customers.
“We are against the account Maintenance fees introduced by CBN in 2016. It is another opportunity for banks to steal from customers for doing absolute nothing. It is only in Nigeria that you hear banks charging for account Maintenance,” she said.
The CBN had indirectly reintroduced Commission on Turnover (CoT) fee as Current Account Maintenance (CAM) fee.
The Daily Times recalls that the CBN in 2013 commenced phased reduction of CoT which terminated with zero CoT charge this year.
But in a circular to banks last week signed by Director, Financial Policy & Regulation Department, Mr. Kevin Amugo, the CBN replaced the CoT with CAM but subject to maximum of N1 per N1000 (Mille).
The circular was titled, “Introduction of Negotiable Current Account Maintenance Fee Not Exceeding N1/Mille.
It stated that’, “The Revised Guide to Bank Charges (RGBC) which came into effect on April 1, 2013 provides for a phased elimination of COT charges in the Nigerian banking Industry. Under the Guidelines, a zero COT regime was to come into effect from January 2016.
The CBN noted that while the gradual phase out was being observed, some banks continued to charge Account Maintenance Fees in addition to the reduced COT rate, which in effect amounted to double coincidence of charges.
The CBN is not oblivious of the impact of declining crude oil prices; operation of Treasury Single Account; and other market turbulences on the viability and stability of the banking system.
“In furtherance of the mandate to promote and safeguard a sound financial system in Nigeria, banks are by this circular reminded that the 2016 Zero COT regime as jointly agreed during the 311th Bankers Committee meeting of February 12, 2013 has come into effect.
In the interest of stability of the banking system, a Negotiable Current Account Maintenance Fee not exceeding N1 per mille may be charged in respect of all customer induced debit transactions. Please ensure strict compliance”.