The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA,) Kennedy Uzoka has addressed the raging controversy generated over bank charges for ATM, (Automated Teller Machine) transactions.
Explaining the reason Nigerian banks charge customers for ATM transactions, Uzoka said the charges are necessary due to the cost of owning these ATM outlets in Nigeria. He said this during a media chat during the recent UBA Annual General Meeting which held at the Eko Hotels & Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos State.
Uzoka stated that lack of stable electricity in the country negatively impact on the cost of running the ATMs, and in particular, the absence of ATM manufacturers in Nigeria and in Africa inadvertently cause the cost of purchase to be high here.
Such charges are not experienced in foreign countries because the process of ordering for ATMs is easy and readily available. Moreover, foreign banks do not depend on alternative power supply to run their ATMs, Uzoka averred.
In his words of the astute bank chief, “the ATM business in Nigeria requires a lot of reviews. You know, those who say that you withdraw the charges need to understand that we are in a peculiar environment. We all go abroad, UBA operates in London for instance and wants to put an ATM, we just tell the ATM provider, get a space, you put the ATM, everything is there. In Nigeria, you buy an ATM, you pay import duties to bring it because they come from abroad, and we don’t manufacture ATM in Africa. Three, you have to put power, sometimes; you have two generators, inverters, these all cost money. But we in the industry believe we need to serve our customers, so ATM is not a profitable business for us, but we believe at some point, it will be reconsidered.”
However, Uzoka said the ultimate removal of ATM charges won’t adversely affect the bottom line of UBA.
According to him, the deployment of ATM across UBA branches is for customers to experience fast and better service. “If you remove the little charge (because today you can do three transactions without being charged,) and I don’t think that will affect our bottom line; because, at UBA, we see ATM as a channel to make our customers happy. So whatever will make our customers happy will make them patronize us more.”