Consumer Protection Framework

INTRODUCTION

  • In line with the CBN (defined herein) directives on the protection of customers from unfair, unethical and exploitative practices, particularly set out in the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA); theCBN Consumer Protection Regulations 2019 (the Regulations), and the CBN Consumer Protection Framework 2016 (the CBNFramework); and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act2018 (FCCPA), VFD Microfinance Bank Limited (VFDMFBor the Company)hereby issues this Consumer Protection Framework (the Framework) which documents the minimum standards required of VFDMFBunder the regulatory purview of the CBN on fair treatment of consumers, disclosure and transparency, business conduct, complaints handling and redress in order to protect the rights of consumers and to hold the Company accountable.

 

PURPOSE

  • The objectives of this Framework are to protect VFDMFB’s customers:
    • from unfair and exploitative practices in their dealings with VFDMFB;
    • from unethical and predatory practices that undermine consumer confidence in the use of VFDMFBproducts and services;
    • against the provision of inadequate and misleading information and/or failure to disclose material information;
    • by ensuring access to complaint redress mechanisms that are free, fair, timely, transparent, accessible and independent; and
    • by encouraging transparency of VFDMFBin its dealings with consumers.

 

DEFINITIONS

  • In this Framework, except where expressly provided to the contrary, the following terms and expressions shall have the following meanings:

Applicable Law means any national, supranational, regional or local government or governmental, administrative, statute, law (including common law), regulation, rule, ruling, order, writ, injunction, decree or guidelines issued by any authority in Nigeria and amended from time to time, and any international statute, law (including common law), regulation, rule, ruling, order, writ, injunction, decree or guidelines applicable to VFDMFB.

CBN means the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Government Authority means any supranational, national, federal, state, municipal or local government (including any sub-division, court, administrative agency, commission or other authority thereof) or private body exercising any regulatory, taxing, importing or quasi-governmental authority, including but not limited to state-owned or state-controlled entities or enterprises.

Unfair Contract Term means a contract terms which is unfair by any means pursuant to the provision of paragraph 3.3. of the Regulations, which includes a term that:

  1. eliminates or limits the liability of VFDMFBto losses caused to a consumer by misrepresentation, negligence or misleading information on its products or services.
  2. binds a consumer to an obligation while the corresponding obligation on VFDMFBis conditional.
  3. terminates a contract or alters its clauses without reasonable notice to the consumer.
  4. eliminates or limits VFD’sliability with respect to actions or commitments undertaken by their employees, agents or intermediaries.
  5. allows VFDMFBthe possibility of transferring its rights and obligations under the contract, where this may reduce the rights of the consumers, without their consent.
  6. eliminates or limits the right of consumers to seek legal redress in the event of a breach.
  7. allows unilateral change to a contract without stating the circumstances under which the change could be made.
  8. purports to waive any protection provided by a law, regulations or guidelines.

FAIR TREATMENT OF VFDMFB CUSTOMERS

  • VFD shall ensure that structures are put in place to satisfy the requirement of fair treatment of its customers.
  • Specifically, VFDMFB shall:
    • treat all its customers equitably without any form of bias at all stages of the relationship.
    • give customers equal access to basic services and products of VFDMFBwithout regard to their social status, physical ability, marital status, age, religion, tribe or ideology.
    • consider the needs of the financially excluded, including the vulnerable groups such as low-income consumers, women, seniors, physically challenged and the non-literate in the development, and implementation ofVFD’s business models, strategies, and processes.
  • It is the duty of VFDMFBto treat consumers equitably and fairly always. Therefore, VFDMFB shall:
    • treat consumers with courtesy and respect and shall not engage in practices such as threats, intimidation, use of abusive or offensive language, humiliation, misrepresentation, deception or unfair inducements.
    • educate its staff on the form of communication to be used with customers to ensure that customers are treated with courtesy and respect at all times.
    • not unilaterally vary any fee charged under a contract with its customer without notifying the customer of any such variation.
    • not act in a manner that is inconsistent with the provisions of its Terms and Conditions, as provided onVFDMFB’s website and updated from time to time, which have been read and accepted by the customers before starting a contractual relationship.
    • address all customers’ enquiries and requests within five (5) working days of receiving such enquiry/request.
    • deal with all customer related disputes in accordance with VFDMFB’s Dispute Resolution and Complaint Management Control Policy.
    • ensure its contracts are reviewed to exclude any terms which may be consideredan Unfair Contractual Term.
  • VFDMFBshall be committed to providing special considerations as the need arises for vulnerable groups.

 

DISCLOSURE AND TRANSPARENCY

  • VFDMFBshall ensure that, at all times, it promotes transparency and enhanced disclosure practices.
  • Without prejudice to the general provision above, VFDMFBshall ensure the following:
    • Any document or correspondence to its customers shall be:
  1. written in English language and shall be clear, legible and in a minimum font size of 10;
  2. provided in a durable form for future reference, which in this case may be in hard copy or soft copy and kept in a secure location, physical or otherwise;
  3. contain the name and contact details of the corresponding officer in VFDMFBas well as the contact details of the customer;
  4. contain a statement that VFDMFBis regulated by the CBN; and
  5. not be misleading or deceptive.
    • Make provision for oral presentation and translation to specific language of any written correspondence, in the event a customer requests for this or where it is reasonably obvious that the consumer is illiterate or visually impaired or, for any other reason, cannot understand the document.
    • Ensure that the customer’s attention is drawn to the applicability of the Terms and Conditions as provided on VFDMFB’s website or any other medium.
    • Ensure that VFDMFB’s website and application are functional and regularly updated with the current features of products and services offered.
    • Liaise with customers on preferred communication channels to be adopted, which shall include electronic and non-electronic channels.
    • Comply with the rates, fees, charges or prices published or disclosed at the engagement points.
    • Where applicable, inform consumers of applicable and indicative foreign exchange rates through customer engagement points and advise consumers to always check the rates before consummating foreign exchange transactions.
  • VFDMFBshall ensure that no cost is passed to the customer in relation to the dissemination of important information in relation to the product and service offerings by VFDMFB.
  • With respect to the communication channels adopted to deal with customer’s enquiries/issues, VFDMFBintends to maintain at least four(4) channels, including Email, live chat, Facebook and Twitter.