The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has expressed concern over the way Deposit Money Banks charge account holders indiscriminately, decrying that apart from known charges, there appeared to be other ‘hidden’ charges that banks imposed on their customers.
Gbajabiamila, who noted that the House was concerned that such a practice was making customers helpless, called on Nigerian banks to come up with ways to address high charges on loans and other facilities they offered.
The Speaker said this when the board and management of Standard Chartered Bank, led by the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Lamin Manjang, visited him, according to a statement issued on Monday by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi.
The statement was titled ‘Gbajabiamila voices concern over banks’ ‘hidden’ charges, exploitative marketing in Nigeria’.
The speaker said, “We have issues that come up in your industry, so this visit is a welcome development. One of the issues at stake is the rate at which banks charge customers. There are claims that banks have hidden charges. This has come up a couple of times on the floor of the House. This is something that we should look into.”
He also expressed concern over the kind of ‘exploitative marketing’ some bank marketers were subjected to, asking if that was the practice all over the world.
Gbajabiamila asked, “You have corporations in the UK and other parts of the world. What obtains here in banking, in terms of marketing – sending people to go and knock at people’s offices and all that; does it obtain in those places? If it doesn’t obtain in those countries, it is not international best practice; why should it obtain here?”
The speaker recalled how he came up with a bill against corporate prostitution some years back but the legislation did not sail through.
He said, “We are here to support you. Whatever we need to do, we should do it to support you. We need to know the kind of marketing that takes place. Is it digital marketing?
“We also have to set realistic targets for the marketers. We have the responsibility to protect Nigerians, and we also have the responsibility not to kill your business. So, it is a delicate situation.”
The CEO of Standard Chartered Bank had earlier told the speaker that his bank was one of the oldest banks in Nigeria and that it had a strong presence in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
Manjang, a Gambian, said having taken the position of CEO of the bank two years ago, it became necessary to visit the speaker to reiterate the bank’s commitment to Nigeria.
Responding to the issue of exploitative marketing, the CEO stated it was standard for banks to market their products to customers but added that it had to be ethical.
Manjang said, “It is not peculiar to Nigeria, but it has to be ethical. Teams usually go round, but the ethical conduct has to be there.
“You need to have marketing for people to know what you offer. If there are any abuses or conducts that are not ideal, they should be called out and addressed.”
Chairman of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, Victor Nwokolo, also noted that Nigerians had been battling with the issue of high interest rates by banks and that the issue needed to be tackled head-on.