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Market Digest Nigeria

Finance

Consumer agency stops N50 charge on PoS transactions

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission on Tuesday stopped the additional N50 charge currently imposed on transactions conducted through Point of Sales Terminal.

Mr Babatunde Irukera

The FCCPC issued the directive in a statement signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Mr Babatunde Irukera, and made available to journalists in Abuja. In recent times, there has been significant contention with respect to merchant imposed N50 stamp duty assessments on consumers for PoS transactions.

The fee, which is said to have emanated from the Central Bank of Nigeria, was meant to be for consumers who select PoS option to conclude their purchases or transactions. Supermarkets, eateries, filling stations, and other businesses across the country have had to charge their customers an additional N50 on every PoS transaction.

Irukera in the statement described the charge as counterproductive as it negated the effort of the apex bank to promote a cashless economy. He said the merchants’ response of imposing this assessment on consumers was not only inconsistent with the cashless policy, but also counterproductive and burdensome on consumers.

He said before the decision was arrived at, the commission had robustly engaged the CBN on the issue, pursuant to S.17 (b), (f), (g), (i) of  the FCCPA Act.

The FCCPC boss added that meetings of the highest levels of leadership of both the CBN and FCCPC were held on the issue. Irukera said the FCCPC’s strongly held position was that an assessment imposed on merchants necessarily was a component of their costs of doing business. This, according to him, may only be directly passed on to consumer in limited circumstances. He said, “Businesses, by their very nature, already capture the operating cost price of their goods and services.

“To impose an additional fee on consumers that is exclusive of price and discriminates based on the selected mode of payment essentially amounts to a penalty for the adopted mode of payment. “The problems associated with carrying excessive cash in order to avoid a penalty are myriad and multifaceted.”

He added, “Accordingly, the commission welcomes the CBN’s definitive statement on December 23rd, 2019, clarifying its September 17, 2019 directive by Circular Ref. PSM/Dir/CON/02/015 that the directive did not intend to pass such fees to consumers.”

He said based on engagement with the CBN, it was “inappropriate and illegal for businesses to pass a stamp duty cost of doing their business to consumers.” He added, “Effectively, and in furtherance of this clarification, merchants are now prohibited from penalising or otherwise assessing any duty, costs or assessment characterised as ‘stamp duty’ on consumers who select point of sale options to conclude their purchases or transactions.”

He said the directive was being issued pursuant to Section 18 (2) of the FCCPC Act which prohibits any of such assessments. Irukera said the commission, in collaboration with CBN, other relevant regulators and law enforcement authorities would enforce the law to its fullest. He urged consumers to report any violations when they occured with evidence of such deductions.

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