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CBN moves to protect bank customers against excess charges, illegal debits

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Following rising complaints from customers of commercial banks in Nigeria over incidences of multiple and indiscriminate charges and debits on their accounts, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has promised to ensure that affected customers get redress on their complaints.

A spokesman for the apex bank, Mr. Osita Nwanisobi, advised aggrieved bank customers to contact the CBN, promising that the apex bank would ensure that customers get redress on issues of excess charges and unauthorised withdrawals.

Nwanisobi was responding to an avalanche of complaints on social media, where many customers complained that they were at one point or the other shortchanged by some commercial banks through unauthorised debits from their accounts.

On Friday, some of them expressed their frustration over the failure of the affected banks to resolve the issues, prompting the affected customers to cause a stir on social media.
“Guys, there’s a high level of coordinated fraud in the banking sector right now. So many customers are getting debited from their accounts and banks are claiming it’s PoS transactions even from accounts that barely use their cards. These funds are not being reverted,” a Twitter user wrote.

According to another aggrieved bank customer, “Banks are not having explanations for these debits and unauthorised transactions. Banks are not safeguarding these funds. They are encouraging the fraud and nobody is talking about it. If you have a debit card, your money is not safe.”

A customer by the name Arakunrin Anu alleged that he lost N39,000 in one of the banks, adding that when he “went to the bank to complain, they said it was a PoS transaction, which was not initiated by me or anyone, I stay alone and don’t move about with my card.”

Another customer, Mr. Ukeh, a Sunday school teacher, alleged that one of the banks removed N10,000 from his cousin’s account for a supposed PoS transaction which he said he never authorised.

“He went to the bank to fight, I mean physically fistfight, and in less than 12hours it was reversed,” he stated.

However, the apex bank’s spokesperson, according to TheCable, explained that the CBN has since issued a circular on its website, showing all legitimate bank charges.

He added that any charge outside what is stated in the circular is not allowed.
“What you should be asking them (bank customers) is if they have reported those incidents to the CBN. We work based on the information we receive,” Nwanisobi said.

“We have channels; we have educated them; we have said that you have the right to complain if you get debited. We have written on our website about the cost of bank charges. If anybody is charging you more than what you see, what do you do?

“You need to report to CBN and we will take it up. Anytime we have done sensitisation, we showed them, in concrete terms, the amount we have recovered from banks and sent back to individuals.
“Customers should report to the CBN. We have channels; we have email addresses where they can reach us. That’s what they should do.”
Meanwhile, the CBN advised customers to allow deposit money banks to resolve their complaints within two weeks.

“If after lodging your complaint your Bank still fails to engage you and resolve the complaint within two weeks as provided for in the ATM HELP DESK Circular, you have the right to escalate your complaint to the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) of the CBN,” the apex bank said.
The apex financial regulator said customers can contact the CPD by sending an email to cpd@cbn.gov.ng, contactcbn@cbn.gov.ng, or call +234 7002255226.

BUSINESS

5G Deployment: Nigeria approves Microsoft’s agreement, migration of C-Band services

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The federal government has approved an Enterprise Licensing Agreement for Microsoft products and the clearing up of C-Band Spectrum in order to accelerate the deployment of 5G services in the country.

In a statement, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, on Thursday, said the approval was given during the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) last Wednesday.

This agreement is part of the federal government’s effort towards keeping the cost of IT projects within sustainable levels, the statement, signed by the Technical Assistant to Pantami, Dr Femi Adeluyi, revealed.

He said the agreement would give the government access to discounted prices and other cost benefits, as well as reduce project duplication across Federal Public Institutions (FPIs).

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BUSINESS

Bitcoin posts its worst quarter in more than a decade

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Bitcoin on Thursday posted its worst quarterly loss in more than a decade.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency has lost around 58% of its value in the second quarter of 2022, according to data from CryptoCompare. Bitcoin has fallen from $45,524 at the start of the quarter and was trading just below $19,000 on Thursday, the last day of the three-month period.

This is the worst quarterly performance for bitcoin since the third quarter of 2011 when it lost 68.2% of its value.

Bitcoin is down 39.8% in June and is on pace for the worst month ever dating back to 2010 when it became available on exchanges, Coin Metrics data shows.

Meanwhile, ether is down 69.3% in the second quarter and is on track for its worst quarter on record, dating back to its inception in 2015, according to Coin Metrics data.

Coin collapse, 3AC liquidation
Cryptocurrency prices have come under intense pressure this quarter amid rampant inflation which has caused central banks around the world to raise interest rates and led to a sell-off in risk assets, such as stocks and digital coins.

The crash in prices has also exposed issues with a several cryptocurrency companies and projects, particularly those in the lending space and firms that are highly leveraged.

A number of high profile issues have come to light during the quarter.

In May, the algorithmic stablecoin terraUSD collapsed along with its sister token luna. A stablecoin is a digital currency pegged to a real-world asset. TerraUSD was supposed to be pegged one-to-one with the U.S. dollar. Some stablecoins such as tether are backed by real assets like fiat currencies and government bonds. But terraUSD was governed by an algorithm which effectively failed.

Then In June, crypto lending firm Celsius paused withdrawals for its customers citing “extreme market conditions.”

Meanwhile, cryptocurrency exchange CoinFlex halted withdrawals for customers last week also citing “extreme market conditions.” But the company also claimed long-time crypto investor Roger Ver owes it $47 million after his account went into “negative equity.” Ver has denied that he owes CoinFlex money.

And the liquidity crisis has also hit prominent crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital which has fallen into liquidation, CNBC reported on Wednesday.

The latest downturn is being described as a new “crypto winter” and has also impacted growth and hiring at companies. Coinbase and BlockFi announced plans to lay off staff.

How does this cycle compare to the past?
Jacob Joseph, research analyst at CryptoCompare, notes that in the previous boom and bust cycle, bitcoin fell from a peak of $19,871 in the fourth quarter of 2017 to a low of $3,170 in the fourth quarter of 2018, suffering a drawdown of 8%.

Joseph said a similar fall of 82.2% was seen in 2014 when bitcoin fell from a high of $1,239 in the fourth quarter of 2013 to a low of $221 in the second quarter of 2015.

“This suggests that we could be in for a further drawdown period if the current poor macroeconomic conditions continue to persist,” Joseph told CNBC.

Other investors have expressed bearishness. In May, Guggenheim Chief Investment Officer Scott Minerd, said bitcoin could drop to $8,000. At the time, the cryptocurrency was trading at around $30,000, representing a 70% fall.

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BUSINESS

European markets set to retreat as caution persists after worst quarter since 2020

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European markets are set to pull back on Friday after suffering their worst quarter since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, as inflation and interest rate hikes continue to weigh on sentiment.

Britain’s FTSE 100 is seen around 38 points lower at 7,131, Germany’s DAX is set to fall by around 123 points to 12,661 and France’s CAC 40 is expected to drop by around 54 points to 5,869.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed the second quarter of the year on Thursday down 9% — the worst three-month period since the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 — and was down 16.6% year-to-date.

Global market sentiment remains gloomy as the war in Ukraine shows no sign of abating and inflationary pressures continue to mount, prompting central banks to embark on aggressive monetary policy tightening and exacerbating fears of a global economic slowdown.

Shares in Asia-Pacific were lower overnight with Japan’s Nikkei 225 leading losses in the region, after the Bank of Japan’s quarterly business sentiment survey posted a sharp decline in the April-June period.

However, China’s manufacturing activity expanded at its sharpest rate for 13 months in June, boosted by resurgent output after the easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures.

U.S. stock futures also retreated in early premarket trade after the S&P 500 closed out its worst first-half performance since 1970, dropping 20.6% year-to-date by Thursday’s close.

Back in Europe, Reuters reported Thursday that the European Central Bank will on Friday begin a process of buying bonds from southern European nations, including Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece. The ECB will reportedly use the proceeds from maturing German, French and Dutch debt, in a bid to cap spreads between their respective borrowing costs.

On the data front, a flash euro zone June inflation reading is due Friday morning, along with manufacturing PMIs from Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

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