Between January and June 2019, four leading banks generated N24.3bn from account maintenance charged on their customers’ accounts, investigation has shown.
This is an increase of about 19.18 per cent from N20.39bn generated in the corresponding period in 2018.
Some banks on monthly basis charge their customers N50 with or without card while some deduct N1,000 from each customer’s account per annum for maintaining their savings accounts.
The Senate had in 2018 called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to suspend the deduction of card maintenance fee.
The upper legislative chamber also directed its banking committee to investigate the deduction in comparison with what obtained in other countries.
The earning of some banks in account maintenance charges may have been propelled by large customer base.
Two leading banks by profit, Zenith Bank Plc and GTBank, for instance, have over 8.6 million and 16 million customers respectively.
Specifically, Zenith Bank recorded N9.57bn from account maintenance fee in the first six months of 2019. This reflects 10.76 per cent increase over N8.64bn reported in the first six months of 2018.
GTBank Group’s audited report for the first six months of the year; N5.71bn was generated for maintaining customers account in the first six months of the year, up from N5.18bn in the first six months of 2018.
The merger between Access Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc aided 96.15 per cent increase on account maintenance fees of Access Bank, moving from N3.14bn in the first six months of 2018 to N6.16bn in the first six months of 2019.
Access Bank in its audited result and accounts for the six months ended June 30 said account maintenance fees were fees charged on current account.
“N1 on every N1, 000 in respect of all induced debit transactions is charged on these accounts,” Access Bank explained.
The bank noted that card maintenance fees were fees charged customers for maintaining their accounts.
“The fees are earned and recognised by the bank over the validity year of the card. The bank charged the customers for this service on a monthly basis,” extract from the bank’s audited six months result for the period ended June 30 to the Nigerian Stock Exchange explained.
The United Bank for Africa Plc, on the other hand, reported 16.3 per cent increase on account maintenance fees, N3.39bn, in the first six months of the year, up from N2.9bn in the first six months of 2018.
The President of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, Dr Uju Ogubunka, explained that the guide to charges by Banks and Other Financial Institutions in Nigeria, 2017 made no provision for “Account Maintenance Fee”.
Ogubunka, a former Registrar and Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, added, that the CBN guideline, however, provided for ‘Current Account Maintenance Fee’.
He noted that the CBN guide prescribed that the rate chargeable by a bank for this fee was negotiable with a customer subject to a maximum of N1.00 per mille”.
Ogubunka said, “Consequently, no bank is authorised to make this charge without first, negotiating with the customer and the agreed rate must not be more than N1.00 per mille.
“How many customers know that they ought to negotiate with banks on this fee? How many cross-check and verify the type, amount and basis of charges entered into their accounts by their banks? How many seek redress when necessary?
“Nevertheless, the Guide’s provision, directly or indirectly, places the burden on the banks. It is their responsibility to call the attention of their customers for negotiation.”
He called on regulators and supervisors of banks in the country to investigate and confirm that banks are complying with regulatory provisions on account maintenance charges.
According to him, CBN needs to impose deterrent sanctions on any bank found, not just violating the regulations but fundamentally, cheating customers as well as putting the reputation of banks and bankers in disrepute.
He asked bank customers to examine their accounts periodically, with a view to ensuring they were managed in accordance with the rules/regulations of banking operation in the country.