Findings have revealed that bank customers in Nigeria paid N75.5bn as account maintenance charges in six months.
While customers were not even sure of what their banks mean by account maintenance, Nigerian banks have consistently without the permission of account holders withdrew N75.5bn between January and June 2021.
It was gathered that the N75.5bn of this year is an increase of 43 per cent over what was paid in the first half of last year.
Besides, a report from the Vanguard also indicated that there was a sharp rise in the income the banks generated from electronic banking (e-banking) services rendered to the customers during the same period.
The e-banking income was said to have risen by 51 per cent to N113.84 billion from N75.26 billion in the first half of last year.
It stated, “The bank’s half year financial statements showed that account maintenance fees paid by bank customers rose sharply by 43 percent to N75.5 billion in H1’21 from N52.94 billion in H1’20.
Sterling Bank had the highest growth rate in account maintenance fee, up by 75 per cent to N1.4 billion in H1’21 from N800 million in H1’20.
“This was followed by UBA with 50 per cent rise to N5.4 billion from N3.6 billion in H1’20.
“The bank with the least growth in account maintenance fee was FCMB recording N2.2 billion in H1’21, up 29 per cent from N1.7 billion in H1’20.”
For the e-banking income, Zenith Bank was found to have recorded the highest growth rate with N17 billion, 91 per cent rise from N8.9 billion in H1’20.
Union Bank recorded a 3.3 per cent decline to N3.54 billion from N3.66 billion in H1’21.
The report quited President of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, Dr Uju Ogubunka, as attributing the growth in account maintenance fees and e-banking income to increased transactions by bank customers despite low income and slow business activities in H1’21.
He stated, “Several factors can make account maintenance fees grow. Like I said, it is a function of transaction. If transactions are increasing then, the banks will have a reason to charge that fee. Remember what the name is account maintenance and there is a rate stipulated by the regulatory authorities that should be charged.
“So, those rates once they are maintained and they are growing it means that the customers are transacting more than whatever one would have thought of.
“The only problem that you may have is that if it can be proved that the basis on which these fees are collected by the banks is not in line with the principles and regulatory requirements that guide the collection of the account maintenance fee.
“I think it will be for the regulators to find out why the cost or the fees are increasing even when suspiciously business is not moving, people are not transacting as much as they would have loved to in their banking activities. These are all in the minds. Nobody knows what is happening in reality and that is why the authorities should be able to now take a look at that.”