First Bank announces suspension of international transactions on naira cards

First Bank of Nigeria has declared that beginning September 30, its naira cards will no longer be accepted for international transactions.

The bank attributed its decision to current foreign exchange market conditions.

Prior to this change, consumers could use their naira debit cards for any transaction, but only up to $20 or $50 each month.

In March, First Bank joined other Nigerian banks in reducing the monthly limit on international spending on naira cards. Due to “current market realities on foreign exchange,” it cut its spending limit to $50 at the time.

Several banks lowered the monthly overseas spending limit on naira cards at the time. The United Bank of Africa (UBA) was the first to make the decision, announcing a new limit of $20 on February 24.

At the time, Zenith Bank notified its clients that it was lowering the foreign spending limit on its naira cards to $20 and stopping international ATM and point-of-sale (POS) transactions.

Guaranty Trust Bank, Sterling Bank, and Union bank also announced a new monthly restriction of $20, while Wema Bank went a step further by announcing on March 14 that it will no longer accept cross-border payments with Naira cards.

For years, Nigeria has had a foreign exchange shortage caused by imports, but in 2021, the Naira plummeted more than 30 percent in a single year. N705/$1 is the current black market exchange rate between the naira and the US dollar.

As of September 19, Nigeria’s foreign reserves decreased to $38.5 billion, from $38.9 billion as of August 19.

In an email sent to customers on Wednesday morning, the bank explained that its Naira Mastercard, Naira Credit Card, our Virtual card, and Visa Prepaid Naira card are no longer available for overseas transactions.

It encouraged its clients to use Visa Debit Multicurrency Card, Visa Prepaid (USD) Card, and Visa Gold Credit Card for international transactions with limits of up to $10,000.

For foreign POS, ATM, and web transactions, customers can still utilize Dollar, Pound, and Euro cards.

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