- CBN Stops Banks from Taking Charges on Bulk Transfers
Commercial banks can no longer take Short Message Service (SMS) charges on bulk bank transfers done through the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS).
The RTGS is an interbank funds transfer system on “real time” basis and “gross”. Settlement in the “real time” means that the transaction takes place almost immediately.
The banks were previously charging N4 per transaction or text message fee on all bulk transfers, but were directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to halt such fees in the interest of customers.
The CBN’s directive has further cut banks’ multiple revenue streams that form a major part of the huge profits they declared in recent years.
A Customer Service Officer in one of the Tier-1 banks said that most salary accounts that are funded through bulk transfers are no longer getting transaction alerts because the fee cannot be absorbed by customers or charged on their accounts.
The source said banks were complying with the CBN directive while customers under such arrangements are expected to use bank-specific digital codes to check their account balances as they can no longer get bulk-transfers related transaction alerts.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had directed that any person subscribing to any of the Nigerian GSM networks must not be charged more than N4 for SMS, sent to other networks. The NCC set a price cap of N4 per message for all domestic Off-Net Messaging Service in line with Sections 4 and Chapter V11 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003.
Speaking on e-payment at a meeting with financial journalists in Lagos, CBN Director, Banking & Payments System Department, ‘Dipo Fatokun, described e-payment as any form of payment that allows the use of electronics system to initiate, authorise and confirm the transfer of money between two parties.
The transaction reason, he said, could be for the payment for goods and services, settlement of obligations, gifts among others.
He explained that e-payments are driven by a network of interconnected systems, which make it possible for exchanges of value between payer and payee, sender and receivers or donor and donee.
“Banks, Payment Service Providers (PSPs), Financial Authorities and Central Banks play various roles in developing the payments system infrastructure to drive electronic payments, that is nationally utilized. The e— payments industry refers to all stakeholders, operators, regulators, infrastructures, merchants, retailers and the final consumers of the payments products and services. Payment technologies and platforms bind the industry together in a tight ecosystem,” he said.
Fatokun disclosed that global non-cash (electronic payment) transaction volumes grew at 8.9 per cent to reach $387.3 billion in 2014, an increase, driven by accelerated growth in developing markets.
“Cards have been the fastest growing payments instrument since 2010, as cheque use has declined consistently and significantly. Debit cards accounted for the highest share (45.7 per cent) of global e-payment transactions and were also the fastest growing (12.8 per cent) payments instrument in 2014,” he said.
According to him, global non-cash volumes are estimated to have grown by 10.1 per cent to reach $426.3 billion in 2015, aided by high growth in emerging economies across the world, including Africa even as the Nigerian e-payments industry has been evolving in line with the evolution in global payments in both Wholesale and Retail systems.
“Banks, PSPs, and the CBN have played various roles in developing the payments system and creating products and channels for electronic payments. The Retail Payments Transformation Programme of the CBN has led to the introduction of various electronic payments products and services by operators in the industry. The electronic products are gradually reducing the usage of cheques and cash, as noticed consistently in the annual performance report since the inception of the Cash-less Policy in 2012,” he said.
He said the volume and value of transactions based on cheques and National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) have been consistently reducing yearly since 2013, while same data for the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System- NIBSS Instant Payment (NIP), Automated Teller Machine (ATM), and mobile money channels have been on the increase. This is an indication of users’ preference for instant value channels over non-instant payment channels.
“The ATM Channel accounts for the highest volume of transactions, while the NIP accounts for the highest value of transactions annually. This is because the ATM is usually the e-payment channel that new and lower value account holders always interface with, while corporates and upwardly mobile middle class customers make transfers using NIP,” he said.
The CBN director disclosed that banks and other e-payment service providers operate in a highly regulated environment. “Regulation is necessary to ensure that operators focus on delivering products and services that enable compliance, efficiency, financial stability and a positive customer experience. The attempt to regulate electronic payments in Nigeria started with the CBN Electronic Banking Guidelines, issued in August 2003,” he said.
Also, in furtherance of its effort to promote and facilitate the development of efficient and effective systems for the settlement of transactions, including the development of electronic payments system, the CBN has since 2008, issued and reviewed several e-payment related framework, guidelines and circulars.
CBN Extends Letter of Credit Issuance Timeline Amid Forex Crisis
Move Aims to Address FX Scarcity Challenges and Enhance Customer Service
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced an extension of the timeline for issuing letters of credit from 24 hours to five working days, according to the newly approved 2023 service charter.
This adjustment comes as the country grapples with foreign exchange scarcity, impacting local and international trade.
The 2020 service charter initially stipulated a 24-hour timeline for the issuance and management of letters of credit, but the updated charter now reflects a timeline extension to five working days.
Also, the CBN has prolonged the timeline for the registration of Form M and NXP from 24 hours to two working days.
The move follows the CBN’s unification of all forex market segments in June 2023, aimed at promoting liquidity and stability.
However, this measure appears to have led to increased market instability, with the naira losing nearly a fifth of its value.
Reports indicate that foreign suppliers are now rejecting letters of credit from Nigerian businesses, affecting the importation of goods and services.
Letters of credit are crucial for the payment of visible goods imports, wherein a bank commits in writing to pay the exporter a specified sum within a defined timeframe upon receipt of proper documentation from the customer.
The extended timelines for letters of credit, Forms M, and NXP in the service charter are seen as measures to manage cash flow and instill confidence in the process amidst the ongoing forex crisis.
CBN Governor Yemi Cardoso stressed the commitment to responsive and citizen-friendly governance through efficient, responsible, and transparent service delivery in the revised service charter.
The move is part of the CBN’s effort to comply with the Business Facilitation Act 2022 and enhance ease of doing business in Nigeria.
Unity Bank MD Advocates Policy Actions to Stem Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria
The Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Tomi Somefun has called for comprehensive policy actions that will dismantle the structures that enable gender-based violence in Nigeria.
At the Ebony Life Cinema, the venue of the film screening in Lagos, Unity Bank supported the BECKMA movie premiere by ARDA Development Commuications Inc. which was held to highlight issues of Gender-Based violence and driving positive change in society.
Making the call, Somefun stated that the Bank committed to partnering with the movie premiere and putting the power of the brand behind BECKMA as the event brings sustainability and gender equality to the front burner.
Represented by Unity Bank’s Group Head of Compliance, Mrs. Patricia Ahunanya, Somefun noted that “9 percent of women aged 15 to 49 had suffered sexual assault at least once in their lifetime and 31% had experienced physical violence,” citing a recent study by UNDP in Nigeria.
Speaking further, Somefun said “Gender-based violence is not just a women’s issue, but a societal ill that demands our collective attention. It is high time for us to step forward and advocate for comprehensive policy actions that will dismantle the structures allowing such atrocities to persist”.
She added, “I urge policymakers to enact stringent laws against gender-based violence, ensuring swift and severe consequences for perpetrators. Our homes and various organisations must also be a catalyst for change, inspiring others to follow suit.”
While commending the ARDA Development Communications Inc. for their initiatives to promote gender equality and empowerment in line with SDG5, Somefun assured of the Bank’s commitment to sustainable initiatives and further collaborative initiatives and advocacy programmes for the elimination of gender-based violence.
Nigeria’s NIBSS Directs Banks to Disconnect Non-Deposit Financial Institutions from NIP System
Banks in Nigeria have received a directive from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to disconnect Switches, Payment Solution Service Providers (PSSPs), and Super Agents from the NIBSS Instant Payment Outwards System.
The circular, dated December 5, 2023, highlighted that including these non-deposit-taking financial institutions as beneficiaries on the NIP funds transfer channels violates the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guideline on electronic payments.
The NIBSS emphasized that while Switches, PSSPs, and Super Agents might process outward transfers as inflows to banks, their licenses do not permit them to hold customers’ funds.
The circular referred to the CBN’s guidelines on electronic payment of salaries, pensions, suppliers, and taxes, dated February 2014, as the basis for this regulatory stance.
The directive also pointed to a circular dated May 11, 2018, titled “Permissible Services and Products of PSSP Operation in Nigeria,” reinforcing the need for compliance.
As a result, banks were urged to delist all Switches, PSSPs, and Super Agents from the NIP Outward Transfer channels while allowing their participation in inward transfers.
In Nigeria’s payment ecosystem, operators are required to obtain licenses such as Switching and Processing, Mobile Money Operations, Payment Solution Services, or Regulatory Sandbox from the CBN.
Only Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) have the authority to hold customer funds, according to the CBN’s regulatory framework.
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