In desperation to fight scarcity of dollars, Nigerian banks have placed indefinite suspension on depositors’ use of automated teller machine (ATM) card and online services in foreign currencies.
It would be recalled that until June, all banking transactions aiding foreign currency transfer to home countries of foreign firms in Nigeria were banned, a move the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said would shore up the value of the naira.
But experts see the suspension on use of ATM as running contrary to CBN lifting of embargo on domiciliary accounts in Nigerian to receive funds and transfer same by their owners without supervision, which it announced in mid of September 2016 after several complaints by bank customers.
But at the weekend, most of the commercial and deposits banks, including Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria and Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) and Diamond Bank announced that henceforth, all overseas ATM card services cease to be.
Also suspended by the banks are online transactions priced in foreign currencies, meaning that customers of the banks will no longer be able to use their debit or credit cards to make online payments that are denominated in dollars, euros, pounds sterling and other foreign currencies.
Text message from Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria to its customers reads: “Please be informed that effective immediately, your naira denominated debit cards will no longer be functional for international transactions. Kindly note that effective October 18, 2016, your ability to carry out transactions priced in foreign currency using our naira debit and credit cards will be suspended. We apologize for any inconvenience in this regard.”
The banks advised customers seeking to carry out transactions denominated in foreign exchange to apply for dollar or pounds sterling debit credit cards, which will be debited or credited to the customers’ domiciliary accounts.
In its approach to the suspension, GTBank announced it could on special cases allow ATM cash withdrawal services abroad, but this is to be slashed to $100 per month.
Most business outfits have decried the suspension order for the negative impacts it is bound to have on their transactions, which they carry out mostly online.
Parents, who spoke on the development, said it would affect Nigerian students studying abroad, while tourists and holiday makers abroad will be the worst affected.
Analysts said the order will force customers seeking to do foreign transactions to open domiciliary accounts and fund same with dollars, pounds or euros purchased from the parallel market at the prevailing exchange rates.
By Emma Eke….
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