CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi
By Goddy Egene
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week said that banks in the country were to establish consumer protection units as the long-term growth of the industry would only be helped by increased transparency and consumer confidence.
The CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, has therefore urged bank directors to approve funds for their management whenever they make requests for the establishment of the consumer protection units and ensure that they are well run.
Sanusi, who disclosed the renewed efforts the apex regulator was making in area of consumer protection, explained the CBN had been restructured while a new department called consumer protection has been created.
“We are investing in it (consumer protection) and developing a framework for it. Now we are talking about consumer financial literacy. We are going to require all banks to take protection as a central part of their business because the long term growth of the banking industry is helped by increased transparency and consumer confidence. And once people feel that they cannot trust their bankers because their bankers are cheating them, then there is a problem,” he said.
The CBN governor, who spoke at the 2012 forum of the Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN) in Lagos, stated that one way to fix consumer issues is to provide the people who will talk to them in the languages the consumers understand.
“The banks will have people who are dedicated to consumer issues and respond fast. We cannot bring people into the financial system only for them to feel cheated and then have no redress,” Sanusi said.
Speaking on the cashless policy, the CBN boss said that following a review of implementation of the policy in Lagos in the last 10 months, it would be feasible for a national rollout in January 2013.
According to him, the heavy dependence on cash remains a challenge that needs to be addressed, adding that there are lingering issues of inter-operability as well as network challenges which need to be addressed before the policy is extended to other states.
He said: “I made a mistake by allowing the cashless exercise run on GPRS services. Services rendered by telecommunications operators have not helped the pilot scheme of the cashless exercise. We need to make the telcos accountable for the kind of services rendered to the Nigerian public. Nigerian banks have a role to play in enhancing the effective implementation of the cashless policy and financial inclusion. “The more people who are financially included, the better the control of monetary policy and macro-economic stability. Banks in Europe have become successful as a result of their ability to harness technology. If Nigeria standardises processes, things will work better and funds can be channeled to other productive areas.”