SIX banks gained a total of N69.35 billion in 2021 as income from maintenance of customers’ accounts.
A bank charges a maintenance fee, which could be deducted monthly or annually, on a holder’s account.
The institutions whose financial reports were assessed are First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Plc, Wema Bank, Sterling Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO), and Zenith Bank.
The banking firms collectively made N69.35bn between January and December 2021, compared to the sum of N49.69bn they earned in the corresponding period of 2020.
Analysis of the full-year financial reports of the six firms from the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) indicated that the figure increased in 2021 by N19.65bn, representing a 39.56 per cent leap.
Zenith Bank ranked the highest, recording N31.39bn from account maintenance fees in 2021, compared to N21.98bn in 2020. GTCO earned N16.68bn as account maintenance charges in 2021, as against N12.49bn in the corresponding year, while UBA received N11.42bn as account maintenance fees, compared to N8.46bn in 2020.
Sterling Bank made N2.93bn as account maintenance charges in 2021, up from N1.92bn in the corresponding period of 2020.
Wema Bank realised N2.10bn as account maintenance fees in 2021 as against N1.24bn in 2020, while FCMB Plc made N4.80bn from account maintenance charges in 2021, compared to N3.57bn in the corresponding year.
In a related development, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in a circular, gave guidelines for internet banking. It put N2,500 as the maximum cost for a hardware token. It said bills payment through other e-channels should cost a maximum of N500. It also gave a range of costs for electronic funds transfer.
It directed that transactions below N5,000 should cost N10; transactions between N5,001-N50,000 should cost N25, while those above N50,000 should cost N50.
The president of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, Uju Ogubunka, lamented the issue of excess charges paid by bank customers, describing it as a major concern.
Ogubunka said, “The issue of excess charges has been a major source of concern to us as an association. We have since been fighting it and we will not stop.
“However, I must say that in most cases, the excess charges imposed on bank customers are not deliberate but a result of a capacity-building problem. That is when recruits or inexperienced hands handle transactions and overcharge.
“Also, most times, when the banks overcharge, they are made to repay customers with prime interest plus two per cent.”
Early this month, The ICIR reported how several GTCO customers suffered unauthorised deductions from their bank accounts. Some transactions went back as far as 2020. The majority of the customers in that report complained about how the bank deducted lump sums from their accounts due to Short Message Service (SMS) debit alerts.