By Kehinde Ibrahim
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said it may have to issue guidelines on protection of bank customers.
Such guidelines, which would begin with an exposure draft, would begin with spelling out areas of consumer protection, as it should no longer be just a slogan, but engage in customer education.
In a panel discussion after presenting a paper: “Banks and consumer protection in Nigeria: Challenges and the way forward,” S.K. Salam-Alade, director, Consumer Protection Department at the CBN, agreed that Nigerian bank customers are not adequately protected.
Represented by Ibrahim Hassan, Assistant Director, Consumer Protection Department of CBN, he expressed hope that the banks will fully comply with the guidelines and help Nigerians to know their rights.
Hassan, who spoke at the seminar organised for the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) and business editors, assured that the CBN is working at addressing such, stressing that customer protection should be taken beyond the realm of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
According to him, “if I have been a bank customer for 10 years and I have never transacted business on that account from outside of Nigeria for that period and suddenly a transaction comes, for example, from Ukrain… and you allowed it sail through…”
Also speaking, another panelist, Dr. Uju Ogubunka, immediate past registrar of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), said bank customers are those who have bank accounts and therefore wear the shoe.
He recalled that the CBN as saying that customers have rights to full disclosure and excellent banking services, choice, data protection, and the need to recognize and uphold such rights.
Ogubunka, who is also President, Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, wondered if bank customers really feel protected, urging Nigerian banks to respect those rights, stressing: “that is when we know we are protected.
“I put my money in the bank on trust that anytime I go to ask for my money, I will have it. When I give you information, I expect that it will be protected without expecting that fifth columnists will have access to it.”
He urged banks to educate customers about current developments, including issues like digital currencies.
Also speaking on the panel, Olayinka Tiamiyu, General Manager, Internal Audit, Access Bank Plc, agreed that customer protection and education cannot be taken for granted, as without customers the banks will not exist in an age when era of armchair banking is long gone.
“No bank will work so hard to acquire customers and then be happy to lose them daily,” urging banks to also hold town hall meetings as part of consumer education and using the media to reach customers.
“We were using SMS, but the customers complain about the cost. We are trying several means to reach all customers one-on-one, but how many can we honestly reach?”