With the lingering foreign exchange scarcity in the system yet to abate, some deposit money anks (DMBs) in the country are further reducing limits on the amount individuals can withdraw with their debit cards while abroad, findings by New Telegraph show. For instance, an email that Zenith Bank sent to its customers this week, seen by New Telegraph, reads in part: “Please be informed that the monthly international spend limit for your Zenith Bank Naira cards has been reviewed to US$100 while the use of Zenith Bank naira cards for international automated teller machine cash withdrawals is still temporarily suspended.
This review is in response to today’s economic realities.” The lender had in July reviewed the monthly card international spend limit from $500 to $200 and temporarily suspended the use of its Naira cards for international ATM cash withdrawals.
Other lenders, including Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Nigeria’s biggest by market value, had earlier cut the amount of foreign currency customers can spend on payment cards abroad to $100 a month from $3,000. In addition, many lenders had in March and April, announced new limits on the amount individuals can withdraw with their debit cards while abroad. Following the sharp drop in the price of crude oil (the commodity that accounts for over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s export earnings and over half of government revenue), coupled with the effects of the coronavirus crisis, the country’s foreign exchange reserves have dropped from $45billion in July last year to below $36billion currently, thereby making it difficult for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to meet demand for forex.