By NBF News
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LAGOS - In preparation for the take-off of its policy on cash withdrawal limit, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has issued guidelines for payment of goods and services through Point of Sale Terminal (PoS).

Among other things the guidelines barred merchants from surcharging customers for using PoS to pay for transactions.

It said: 'A merchant shall under no circumstance charge a different price, surcharge a cardholder or otherwise discriminate against any member of the public who chooses to pay with a card or by other electronic means.'

It, however, limits the fee that a merchant can be charged for any PoS transaction by the PoS service provider to 1.25 per cent of transaction value. It said: 'The maximum total fee that a merchant shall be charged for any PoS transaction shall be 1.25 per cent of the transaction value subject to a maximum of N2,000.

'Exceptions may apply in respect of travel and entertainment merchants including but not limited to hotels, restaurants, airlines, etc. In which case shall be at such rate as agreed from time to time between the Acquirer and the Merchant.

'Under no circumstance shall a merchant charge a surcharge to customers for using their cards. The fees and charges stated above are applicable to only PoS transactions performed with naira denominated cards.'

POS transactions done with cards issued in foreign currencies will still follow the pricing arrangement put in place by the relevant international card association/scheme' This effectively settles one of the issues militating against the deployment and use of PoS for payment of goods and services.

It also spells out conditions under which merchants can refuse to accept payment through payment card. 'A merchant may refuse to accept payment by means of an electronic payment instrument, including payment with cards, if: The electronic payment instrument is invalid; Notification of loss, missing, stolen or damaged has been made of the electronic payment instrument; The cardholder refuses to present a document confirming his/her identity in the event of suspicious / unauthorized use of electronic payment instruments', it said.

The guidelines also banned banks (card issuers) from charging customers for unsolicitated cards. It said, 'No card issuer or its agent shall bill or charge a customer for an unsolicited card unless and until after the card is fully activated by cardholder'.

The CBN also said banks would be liable for card frauds, '(where proven) for card frauds arising from card skimming or other compromises of the issuer's security system, including payment done with hot-listed card.'

The purpose of the guidelines, according to the apex bank, 'is to provide minimum standards and requirements for the operation of POS card acceptance services'.

'All industry stakeholders who process and/or store cardholder information shall ensure that their terminals, applications and processing systems comply with the minimum requirements of the following Standards and Best Practices (for PCI, the minimum requirement will be level 2.1). In addition, all terminals, applications and processing systems, should also comply with the standards specified by the various card schemes.

Each vendor must provide valid certificates showing compliance with these standards, and must regularly review status of all its terminals to ensure they are still compliant as standards change. There will be a continuous review and re-certification on compliance with these and other global industry standards from time to time',