CBN Halts SMS Charges on Transfers

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Nigerian Central Bank, Abuja, Nigeria.

Money deposit 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.

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, Dipo Fatokun, CBN Director, Banking & Payments System Department, ‘, 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.

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.

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 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.