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Banks Slash International Spending Limit as FX Shortage Deteriorates

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Nigerian Banks

By Adedapo Adesanya

Nigerian banks are coming under pressure as forex scarcity in the country worsens, coming up with new policies to reduce international spending limits for their customers.

On Wednesday, a top financial institution, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Plc, sent an SMS to its customers that it was slashing the international spending limit on its Naira Mastercard by 80 per cent to $100 per month from $500 it first reduced it to in March 2020.

In the message seen by Business Post, the tier-one lender said, “Dear customer, the monthly spending limit on your GTBank Naira Mastercard is now $100 for international transactions. Thank you for banking with us.”

The implication of this new development is that for now, customers cannot make payment for foreign purchases or transactions in Nigeria above $100 per month, which is less than N50,000 when converted to the Naira equivalent.

As of 2018, the spending limit on the bank’s Mastercard stood at $3,000 per month and this was when Dollar inflows into the country were fair, but within two years, things have gone worse for the country.

Since the beginning of the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, Nigeria has struggled to earn FX, especially from the sale of crude oil and this has put huge pressure on the local currency.

For two different times this year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has had to adjust the value of the Naira to the Dollar this year first from N306 to N360 and then to N380.

Also, the regular weekly sale of forex to Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators has not resumed since it was suspended in March 2020 in the heat of the Coronavirus pandemic.

A historical analysis of the spending limit policy of GTBank showed that on March 25, 2020, the lender reviewed it to $1,500 from $3000.

“We would like to inform you that the monthly spending limit on your GTBank Naira Mastercard has been reviewed from $3,000 to $1,500 for your international online and POS transactions effective March 25, 2020,” the bank had said in a message to its customers.

However, as shocks from plunging crude prices gripped the country, reducing its dollar inflows, the lender once again reduced its international spending limit from $1,500 per month to $500 per month in the same March.

And now, less than six months later, it has been reduced to $100 per month.

Projections show that GTBank is not only the lender susceptible to make the change as more banks are expected to follow in coming days as evident in the past.

Just last month, Stanbic IBTC Bank said its customers will only be able to spend $500 per month in terms of offshore card transactions and placed a monthly limit of $100 on withdrawals.

Similarly, Zenith Bank Plc announced a temporary suspension of the use of debit cards for cash withdrawals abroad while it slashed the monthly sending limit for international card users to $200.

There are speculations that First Bank, Ecobank Nigeria, Fidelity Bank, UBA, Access Bank and others will soon adopt the same policy to reduce their monthly cash withdrawals for their customers when using their cards for offshore transactions.

Affected Nigerians across the social media platforms have made their displeasure known about this new development.

In July 2020, the central bank, as part of its efforts to support the Naira, placed an outright ban on the sale of forex to maize importers.

Business Post gathered that as at Tuesday, August 11, 2020, the amount left in the country’s external reserves stood at $35.6 billion.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

Banking

Cashless Policy: CBN Announces Fresh Cash Withdrawal Limits

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fresh cash withdrawal limits

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has placed new limitations on cash withdrawals from January 9, 2023, following the launch of the redesigned Naira notes by President Muhammadu Buhari last month.

In a letter seen by Business Post on Tuesday, all Deposit Money Banks (DMBS) and Other Financial Institutions (Payment Service Banks (PSBs), Primary Mortgage Banks (PMBs) and Microfinance Banks (MFBs) must not allow individuals and corporates to withdraw more than N100,000 and N500,000, respectively, while cheques above N50,000 shall not be available.

It noted that in line with the cashless policy of the CBN, all financial institutions must comply with the directives, which include, “The maximum cash withdrawal over-the-counter (OTC) by individuals and corporate organizations per week shall henceforth be N100,000 and N500,000 respectively.

The apex bank noted that individuals and companies intending to go above the fresh cash withdrawal limits should be ready to pay processing fees of 5 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

“Third-party cheques above N50,000 shall not be eligible for payment over the counter, while extant limits of N10,000,000 on clearing cheques still subsist.

“The maximum cash withdrawal per week via Automated Teller Machine (ATM)) shall be N100,000, subject to a maximum of 20,000 cash withdrawals per day. Only denominations of N200 and below shall be loaded into the ATMs.

“The maximum cash withdrawal via point of sale (POS) terminal shall be N20,000 daily.”

In compelling circumstances, not exceeding once a month, where cash withdrawals above the prescribed limits are required for legitimate purposes, the apex bank noted that such must not exceed N5 million and N10 million for individuals and corporate organisations, respectively.

It noted that this should be subject to the referenced processing fees in addition to enhanced due diligence and further information requirements.

The CBN noted that the financial institutions are required to obtain the following information at the minimum and upload the same on a portal created for the purpose, including a valid means of identification of the payee (National ID, International Passport, Driver’s License).

Others include the Bank Verification Number (BVN) of the payee, notarized customer declaration of the purpose for the cash withdrawal, and senior management approval for the withdrawal by the Managing Director of the drawee, where applicable, as well as the approval in writing by the MD/CEO of the bank authorising the withdrawal.

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Banking

CBN, Stakeholders to Check Rising Wave of Cyber Attacks

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rising cyber attacks

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has assured information security stakeholders and the general public of its commitment to curb the rising cases of cyber attacks within Nigeria’s cyberspace.

This was disclosed by the Director of the Payments System Management Department of the CBN, Mr Musa Jimoh, in his keynote address at the annual Information Security Society of Africa – Nigeria (ISSAN) Cybersecurity Conference in Lagos.

He stated that the apex bank was firmly committed to building a sustainable payments ecosystem in the country.

He also commended ISSAN for organizing the event, stressing that the apex bank will continue to collaborate with organisations that are committed to addressing the rising activities of cyber attacks.

Also speaking, the President of the FinTech Association of Nigeria (FinTechNGR), Mr Ade Bajomo, said to adequately address the rising rate of cyber attacks, organisations should embrace collaboration and information sharing on cyber breaches.

According to him, keeping silence on the part of organizations that had been attacked would not help others, stressing that full disclosure, synergy, and information sharing on reported cyber-attacks and how it was managed would guide other organizations to put preventive and countermeasures in place.

He also called on organizations to constantly upgrade their technology to counter cyber-attacks, urging them to have a data backup.

On his part, the president of ISSAN, Mr David Isiavwe, said the conference was devoted to further exposing the new threats and trends in the cyber security space and also offering practical steps on what businesses and individuals need to know and do to check the rising tide of the activities of cyber-criminals.

He observed that cyber attackers are getting more sophisticated globally, which is an aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that greater awareness must be created to minimize attacks on businesses that may result in losses by various organizations.

Further, Mr Isiavwe, who is also General Manager at Ecobank, made a case for customer awareness as well as a collaboration by all stakeholders.

ISSAN is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection of Nigeria’s cyberspace, specifically and the entire cyberspace in Africa, generally.

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Banking

Bank of the Year Award Shows Zenith Bank’s Resilience—Onyeagwu

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Zenith Bank GMD Ebenezer Onyeagwu GML

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has expressed satisfaction with the emergence of the financial institution as the Bank of the Year in Nigeria in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2022.

The award, which was announced by The Banker Magazine, Financial Times Group, United Kingdom, during the awards ceremony held in London on December 1, 2022, was in recognition of Zenith Bank’s strong management, sound business model and strategy, support for small businesses and efforts to cut energy consumption.

According to the Banker, Nigeria’s Bank of the Year award was among the continent’s most hotly contested this year, befitting the country’s status as Africa’s largest economy.

This is coming on the heels of the award as Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital by The Banker won by Zenith Bank earlier in the year.

Mr Onyeagwu, in his remarks, said, “winning the Bank of the Year attests to our tenacity as an institution despite a very challenging operating environment exacerbated by persistent macroeconomic headwinds.”

“Indeed, being recognised by The Banker – the world’s longest-running international banking title is an acknowledgement of the resilience of the Zenith brand as the leading financial institution in Nigeria and the West African sub-region,” he added.

Mr Onyeagwu lauded the founder and chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia, for his guidance and pioneering role in laying the foundation and building the structures for an enduring and successful institution, the board for their outstanding leadership, the staff for their commitment and dedication as well as the bank’s customers for their unflinching loyalty to the Zenith brand over the years.

Regarded as the industry standard for banking excellence, The Banker’s Bank of the Year award is contested by the world’s leading financial institutions, with winners chosen across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central & Eastern Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, North America and Western Europe.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn it numerous awards, including being recognised as Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 13th consecutive year, in the 2022 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Best Bank in Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria 2021 and 2022 in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, by the Ethical Boardroom; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation In Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards. Also, the Bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021, Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and Retail Bank of the year, for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

Similarly, Zenith Bank was honoured as Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020 and emerged winner in four categories at the Sustainability, Enterprise, and Responsibility (SERAS) Awards 2021, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa.

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