Nigerian Banks discard online transactions over $300 per day

Lilian, a savvy architect, recovering shopaholic and business woman had just received an email from her preferred financial services provider, Guaranteed Trust Bank (GTB). She expected it to be another delayed debit notification or the usual monthly bank statement, but to her surprise this had to do with one of her worst nightmares—spending limits. The bank sent a notification informing her of its decision to reduce the daily international spending limit on their Naira MasterCard.

“In view of the increased difficulty in sourcing foreign currency to settle international transactions on Naira MasterCards, 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.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was a bigger problem, unlike a few of her other architect friends, she was fond of using the same debit card for daily Naira withdrawals. According to the latest arrangement this would mean she can only withdrawal N60, 000 per day as opposed to the original N150, 000. But even though both options would hardly favour her usual routine, what choices did she have?

It was either to divert the use of her credit card to focus less on her shopping habits and more on medical bills, mortgages and credit cards using Form A, or if possible request a separate Naira debit card in order to make her business transactions easier. Circumstances which would be rather frustrating for people like Lilian who constantly pay for renewals or new services but will now have a limit placed on how much they can pay per day.

All ofhese developments come shortly after 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. The apex bank also stated that already all the legitimate demands for such transactions through recognised channels have so far been fully met.

“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.”

Financial transactions via mobile and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) have grown tremendously in recent years. They are also believed to be the major drivers of financial inclusion in Africa where 53 percent of the world’s active mobile money accounts are used. However this could be hampered as the battle to defend the Naira continues to broaden.

The Central Bank is yet to issue an official directive as regards this new arrangement. However holders will be able to use their cards anywhere in the world subject to the annual limit of $50,000; ATM withdraws with a maximum of $300 per day.

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