First Bank of Nigeria will suspend international transactions on its Naira Mastercard from September 30, 2022, according to TheCable.
"Due to current market realities on foreign exchange, you will no longer be able to use the Naira Mastercard, Naira Credit Card, our Virtual card and Visa Prepaid Naira card for international transactions. This will take effect on 30 September 2022," the bank said in an email to its customers.
According to First Bank, its Visa Debit Multicurrency Card, Visa Prepaid (USD) Card and Visa Gold Credit Card will continue transacting abroad with limits of up to $10,000.
On Tuesday (September 20, 2022), the Naira dropped to N436 a dollar at the Investors and Exporters window and N712 at the parallel market. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had previously said that it would stop the sale of foreign exchange to banks by the end of the year. According to the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, banks should generate FX proceeds from exporters to give their customers (importers).
How Nigerian banks are reacting to the FX crisis
Aside from First Bank, Standard Chartered Bank also suspended international transactions on its Naira visa debit card in August. Wema Bank halted cross-border payments with Naira cards starting March 1, 2022.
Prior to the aforementioned, in February, United Bank of Africa (UBA) lowered the international spending limit on its Naira cards to $20 a month—Guaranty Trust Bank, Sterling Bank, Union Bank, and First Bank also made a similar reduction.
With the suspension of the usage of naira-denominated debit cards for international transactions by some banks, the monthly spending limit for customers has dropped to zero from over $4,000 seven years ago.
In April 2015, the spending limit on naira-denominated cards for international transactions was $50,000 per person per annum or $4,166.7 per month.
Lower oil production below the budgeted benchmark despite high crude oil price led to limited foreign currency inflows needed to boost the country’s external reserves, FSDH Research said in a report.
Several Nigerians have continued to react with displeasure on social media against the limits and the suspensions as they restrict their ability to pay for international transactions like Netflix subscriptions, Ads on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.
It is even more difficult as several virtual card providers in the country indefinitely shut down their services in July 2022 due to a "necessary compliance audit" by Union54, the major card provider on the continent.
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