Obinna Chima with agency report
In what may be described as a defiance of an earlier agreement reached by the Bankers’ Committee on the removal of charges on ATM transactions, First Bank of Nigeria has introduced a monthly charge of N100 for cash withdrawals by its customers.
The monthly fee, which becomes effective from this month, the bank explained would be for what it termed “card maintenance fee.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered in Abuja yesterday that a notice on for the new charge titled: ‘Card Maintenance Fee’, was displayed on some ATM machines in the city.
The notice reads: “Dear valued customer, in order to serve you better, from March 2013, a monthly N100 card maintenance fee will be charged for all cash withdrawals within the month.”
When contacted on the development, Director, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Ugo Okoroafor, told THISDAY that the interplay of market forces is still in place in the market.
“What the banks agreed on was the removal of N100 charge on third party transactions. So if First Bank decides to charge its customers N100, the bank would have its reason for that. It is now between the bank and its customers,” Okoroafor said.
Some customers who spoke with NAN, however, condemned the move by the bank and called for sanctions by the regulatory body. Mr. Joshua Abraham, a trader, said it was unfortunate that First Bank should introduce such a charge. “If that is the case, they want to discourage us,” he said.
Mrs. Uju Nwanze, a legal practitioner, said the CBN should stop the charge. “This is another way to get back the N100 charges they just stopped recently on use of ATM cards. These banks are good at exploiting people; they did not even give prior notice like sending text messages.”
Also, Ejiro Fidel, a civil servant, said First Bank should not copy the new generation banks to rip off customers. “They did not even care to inform their customers about this development, this is unlike them. Civil servants use First Bank a lot because we believe they are better than most of these new banks.
“What maintenance are they doing on the card, this is very wrong and I hope that those in charge would stop them from doing so. I think that they should focus on how to encourage customers to use the card than discouraging them. This new charge is really anti-customer friendly,” he said.