Bank customers have been saved the ordeal of losing a whopping N73.26billoom by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fraudulent transactions.
Giving a scorecard on its consumer management, the CBN said that it had resolved 13,715 complaints through its Consumer Protection Desk resulting in the refund of N73.26 billion to them.
The apex bank projected that losses to fraud in the banking industry may hit N6.1 trillion by 2021.
These assailing facts were disclosed at a workshop for business editors and finance correspondents organised by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) in Benin City, the Edo State capital yesterday.
The CBN Director, Consumer Protection Department, S.K. Salam-Alada, who spoke at the event, noted that having issued guidelines on consumer protection in 2016 and reviewed the guide on bank charges in 2017, the apex bank is set to issue a reviewed guideline on consumer protection.
Salam-Alada, who was represented by the apex bank’s deputy director of Consumer Protection, Emmanuel Hassan, said that the advancement in technology and development of new products has opened the financial sector to fraud.
He therefore stressed the need for the industry players and other stakeholders to ensure that customers’ deposits are adequately protected against fraud.
The CBN director who said that 83 per cent of the fraud cases reported in the sector were through electronic channels noted that the rapidly changing financial landscape , evolving technology in the financial technology space as well as changing policies and regulatory environment pose more challenges for consumer protection and enforcement in Nigeria.
In 2016, the CBN issued a Consumer Protection Framework (CPF) which compelled banks to open up consumer protection desks, but Salam-Alada emphasised the need to “restore public trust and confidence in the financial system because of the problems of malfunction in our e-channels and electronic fraud (e-fraud).”
According to him, the apex bank’s CPF is designed to engender public confidence in the financial system, guarantee high standards for efficient customer service delivery, market discipline and fair treatment of consumers by the financial institutions regulated by the CBN.
Salam-Alada said: “Innovation in technology is increasing rapidly and disrupting the financial space. We no longer go to our banks physically as often as we did in the past for financial transactions.”
He noted that the volume and value of e-transactions are projected to continue to increase nationally and globally because of broader ecosystem scope, the evolution of channels adaptability to disruptive innovations and modes of payment as well as increased inclusion in the financial space.
To this end, he said that the apex bank was working on initiatives such as the development of the Consumer Complaints Management System (CCMS) and the National Financial Education Strategy. He said the revised framework will ensure that banks invest in consumer education.
During a panel session at the seminar, the president, Bank Customers’ Association of Nigeria, Mr. Uju Ogubunka, called on the sector’s regulators and banks to ensure that consumers’ rights are not just recognised, but respected so that they can feel protected.
He also urged banks to carry representatives of banks customers along in their dealings.
Also, the general manager, Internal Audit, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Olayinka Tiamiyu, called on financial players to carry out consumer education through seminars, town hall meetings, noting that consumer enlightenment should not be taken for granted because if banks don’t have customers they won’t exist.”
He however noted that consumer education comes at a huge cost to banks as sending a single text message to customers sometimes cost up to N18 per text.