By Adedapo Adesanya
The nation’s apex banking regulatory body, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has warned financial institutions operating in the country against advertisements that tend to exaggerate the benefits of its products and services, while de-emphasizing its associated risks or important disclosure information.
This, the CBN said banks should avoid doing in its recently published consumer protection guidelines titled “Drafts on Disclosure and Transparency” which ensures they provide consumers with all material and relevant information regarding their business relationship in a clear and transparent manner.
The bankers’ bank also cautioned various financial institutions against putting out “misleading, deceptive, or injurious” advertisments.
According to the statement, “The content of advertisements shall be factual and unambiguous, expressed in clear and simple language and shall not be offensive.”
Banks were also directed that the cost of a product or services, including all fees and other charges shall be clearly disclosed to the public and all interest rates in advertisements are to be disclosed on an annual basis and not for a shorter period.
Furthermore, the guideline also stated that financial institutions should disclose their contact details in any promotional material published in a print medium, specifying the usage of a minimum font size of 10.
On competition, “Financial Institutions shall not mention names of competitors or make unverifiable comparisons in their advertisements or promotional materials,” the guideline explained.
In the case where an advertisement refers to or by implication is linked to other value-added benefits, it was stated by the CBN that the nature and value of such benefits should be fully disclosed.
Warning banks on unsolicited advertisements, the draft guidelines said, “Unsolicited advertisements through emails, text messages, voice calls and other channels sent by or on behalf of a Financial Institution shall be at no cost to the consumer and shall contain an opt-out provision for future advertisements.”
Financial institutions were also alerted not to advertise any product or service without the prior notice and approval of Consumer Protection Department of the CBN.
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