In the first six months of this year, five top banks in Nigeria recorded a total of 618,797 unresolved customer complaints.
These banks are Access bank, Zenith bank, Guarantee Trust bank, Fidelity bank and United bank of Africa.
This figure is 305,039 or 103 per cent higher than the 305,039 complaints recorded in the same period in 2020, the H1 financial statements of the banks revealed.
Financial regulators, particularly the Central Bank of Nigeria have, over the years, initiated rules and regulations in the banking sector to ensure improved customer experience.
In November 2016, the CBN issued the Consumer Protection Framework with the aim to engender customers’ confidence in the financial system.
In addition, the CBN introduced the consumer protection regulation in 2019 which, among other things, seeks to provide guidelines for banks to deal with customer complaints.
The apex bank noted in a circular titled, “Issuance of Consumer Protection Regulation” and dated December 20, 2019 that the objectives of the regulations are to protect consumers from unfair and exploitative practices by Institutions in their dealings with the consumers.
It was also targeted at checking unethical and predatory practices that undermine consumer confidence in the use of financial products and services; against the provision of inadequate and misleading information and/or failure to disclose material information; by ensuring access to complaint redress mechanisms that are free, fair, timely, transparent, accessible and independent” among others.
Despite these policies and regulations, banks continue to record high rate of unresolved complaints.
A breakdown of the figure of total unresolved complaints shows that during the period in review, Access bank recorded a total of 297,185 unresolved complaints out of 681,505 complaints received within H1 2021, in addition to 220,904 pending complaints from the previous year.
Out of the total amount of complaints, 605,224 were resolved which cost the bank N764.5m in customer claims.
For Fidelity bank, a total of 190,802 complaints were filed within the period in review, 12 of which escalated to the CBN.
Out of this amount, 185,504 were unresolved while 5,406 were resolved.
The bank’s half year report also disclosed that the sum of N10.1bn was claimed by customers but no amount was refunded.
Further analysis showed that Zenith bank and GT Bank recorded 135,668 and 352 unresolved complaints, respectively.
Between January 1 and June 31 2021, Zenith bank got a total of 216,045 complaints, out of which 80,367 were resolved and a total amount of N2.2bn was paid to customers.
The half year financial report of GT bank shows that within the review period, the bank attended to over 95 per cent of customer complaints.
The bank received a total of 191,995 complaints out of which a total of 191,643 were resolved satisfactorily and the sum of N311.6m was refunded to customers.
UBA recorded the least amount of unresolved complaints with among the 5 banks being analyzed, with only 88 unsettled complaints as at June 30 2021.
The bank’s report stated that 312,600 complaints were received in H1 2021, 312,512 were resolved while 30 cases escalated to the CBN.