First Bank of Nigeria has announced that its naira cards will no longer be used for international transactions starting September 30. The bank said the decision is due to current market realities on foreign exchange. Before now, customers could use their naira debit cards to pay for any transactions but not more than $20 or $50 in a month.
First bank had in March joined other Nigerian banks to reduce their monthly international spending limit on naira cards. It at the time said due to “current market realities on foreign exchange,” it had reduced its spending limit to $50.
At the time, several banks also reduced their monthly international spending limit on naira cards. The United Bank of Africa (UBA) was first to take the decision on February 24 when it announced $20 as its new limit. Zenith Bank informed its customers at the time that it was reducing its international spending limit on its naira cards to $20 and it was suspending international ATMs and point of sales (POS) transactions. Guaranty Trust Bank, Sterling Bank, Union bank also said their new limit was $20 a month, while Wema Bank went a step further to end cross-border payments with Naira cards starting March 14.
Nigeria has suffered an importation-fuelled foreign exchange crisis for years, but the scarcity worsened in 2021 with Naira crashing over 30 per cent in one year. Currently, black market exchange rate between the naira and the US dollar stands at N705/$1. As of September 19, Nigeria’s foreign reserve fell slightly to $38.5 billion, compared to $38.9 billion recorded as of August 19. In a mail to its customers earlier on Wednesday, the bank clarified that its Naira Mastercard, Naira Credit Card, our Virtual card, and Visa Prepaid Naira card will no longer serve customers hoping to use them for international transactions. It urged its customers to use Visa Debit Multicurrency Card, Visa Prepaid (USD) Card and Visa Gold Credit Card to continue transacting abroad with limits of up to $10,000. Customers can still use Dollar, Pounds or Euro cards for international POS, ATM and web transactions.