By Charles C. Opara
The battle for defence of the Naira value has widened, affecting existing withdrawal limits on Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and foreign transactions on all existing Naira debit cards (ATM cards).In the new arrangement, all ATMs that were hitherto enabled for domestic and foreign transactions have been restructured to limit Naira cash withdrawal at ATMs to N60,000 per day while foreign currency is $300 per day. Hitherto, the domestic withdrawal limit was N150,000 per day.
The new arrangement has separated traditional ATM from MasterCard credit card where the former has now been deactivated and can no longer be used for transactions abroad. Hitherto, a single ATM card serves for transactions for both domestic and abroad.
Also, the restructured cards now have spending limits on POS/ecommerce (online shopping) pegged at $300 (about N60,000) per day. Before this, the limit was N2 million per day.
In the new arrangement, a bank customer with multiple debit cards (ATM cards), only the one linked to the primary transactional account will be enabled for use abroad. Hitherto, such customers could transact with any of the cards that is funded.
However, banks are putting in place alternatives in these adjustments to address the concern of customers who are now being directed by their banks to reapply for a new card arrangement to suit their purposes.
For instance, Standard Chartered Bank has asked its customers to request a complementary ATM card for domestic use only so that the original N150,000 daily cash withdrawal limit can be restored and also reactivate POS/online purchase limit of N2 million per day.
The bank also required their customers to apply for a foreign currency denominated ATM linked to domiciliary account which would be enabled with no daily or annual international transaction limits.
Earlier, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc had informed its customers of its decision to reduce the daily international spending limit on their Naira MasterCard to $300 with effect from yesterday.
In a communication to the customers, the bank explained: “In view of the increased difficulty in sourcing foreign currency to settle international transactions on Naira MasterCard, we have reduced the daily international spending limit on your Naira MasterCard to $300.This means that you can only spend up to $300 daily when using your GTBank Naira MasterCard for international payments via POS and online.
“You will, however, continue to have the option of paying for medical bills, school fees, mortgages and credit cards using Form A, as these are eligible transactions for foreign currency. Simply visit any GTBank branch to complete a Form A along with the required documents to make these payments.”
These developments were coming on the heels of Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) statement on Sunday that all legitimate requests for foreign currency for eligible transactions, normally referred to as “invisibles,” such as remittances for school fees, student maintenance allowances, BTA, PTA, medical and other eligible transactions, shall be fully met at the official/interbank exchange rate.
A statement from the CBN added that already all the legitimate demands for such transactions through recognised channels have so far been fully met by CBN.
The statement stated: “The CBN hereby directs all authorised dealers in foreign exchange in Nigeria to henceforth treat as top priority all legitimate demand for foreign exchange for eligible transactions.
“The CBN once again advises individuals that wish to source foreign currency for such eligible transactions to approach their banks with their legitimate demand as the CBN has made adequate provisions of foreign currency for all such legitimate and eligible purposes.
“Furthermore, holders of Naira denominated debit and credit cards shall continue to have access to the use of their cards at ATMs in any part of the world but subject to the annual limit of $50,000. ATM withdraws shall continue to be a maximum of $300 per day.”
BANKS RESTRICT CUSTOMERS WITHDRAWAL ON ATMS
By Charles C. Opara