The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued a directive to the effect that customers can now open bank accounts with zero opening balance.
The directive is contained in the Monetary, Credit, Foreign Trade and Exchange Guidelines for Fiscal Years 2016/2017 guidelines posted by the apex bank on its website.
Under existing operations, most commercial banks require customers to make cash deposits to cover operating cost of opening new accounts to discourage such new customers from abandoning their account opening plans, after completing documentations.
The initial deposits range from between N1, 000 and N5, 000 for personal savings accounts while corporate accounts usually attract cash deposits of N10, 000 and above.
However, this will become a thing of the past as the CBN, through the new policy directive, is seeking to encourage banks to improve their deposit mobilisation efforts while promoting the financial inclusion initiative.
“The CBN shall continue to encourage banks to improve their deposit mobilization efforts. In line with the financial inclusion initiative, banks shall be required to allow zero balances for opening new bank accounts so as to make banking services accessible to the unbanked public. Accordingly, banks are encouraged to develop new products that would improve access to credit and simplify their account opening processes, without compromising the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) requirements”, the guidelines indicated.
It said that despite the drive for deposits, banks and other financial institutions should continue to apply the principle of KYC as specified in the CBN Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Regulations in Banks and Other Financial Institutions Regulations (BOFIA) Act, 2013.
“Financial institutions should not conduct any business with persons/entities who fail to properly identify themselves”, it stressed.