Nigerian Central Bank Mandates 0.5% Cyber security Levy on Transactions

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued a directive instructing deposit money banks, merchant banks, non-interest banks, payment service banks, mobile money operators, and payment service providers to impose a 0.5% cyber security levy on transactions. The directive, contained in a circular dated May 6, 2024, cited the Cyber Crime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Amendment Act 2024 as the basis for the levy.

 

According to the circular, the levy, equivalent to half a percent of all electronic transaction values specified in the Second Schedule of the Act, is to be remitted to the National Cyber security Fund (NCF). The NCF will be administered by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

 

Implementation of the levy is set to commence two weeks from the date of the circular. Financial institutions are required to apply the levy at the point of electronic transfer origination and remit the deducted amount to the NCF account domiciled at the CBN by the fifth business day of each subsequent month.

 

Certain transactions are exempted from the levy, including loan disbursements and repayments, salary payments, intra-account transfers within the same bank or between different banks for the same customer, and inter-branch transfers within a bank. Additionally, cheque clearing and settlements, Letters of Credits, banks’ recapitalization-related funding, bulk funds movement from collection accounts, savings and deposits, and transactions involving long-term investments are exempted.

 

This directive follows recent measures taken by the CBN, including the suspension of Fintech firms from taking on new customers and the imposition of a stamp duty charge on mortgaged-backed loans and bonds.

The circular generated public outcry as many took to social media platforms to express displeasure stating that the current economic situation is taking a huge toll on many families and businesses and as such imposing this levy will only lead to increased hardship on those who are already struggling. Many others viewed this as a show of high level of insensitivity to the plight of many and see it as an indication that the government is out of touch with the citizens.

Others asked how the levy will reduce cyber crime and whether the funds will not be mismanaged or even diverted for other criminal purposes.

Several civil society groups have called for the circular to be withdrawn in order not to put a strain on an already struggling populace.

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