The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has issued a directive that aims to protect and build the confidence of the financial consumers by promoting financial inclusion and healthy financial transactions to amplify the sector growth.
The directive, that is called ‘Financial consumer protection directive no. FCP/01/2020’ indicated that it is issued to build trust and confidence to the financial consumers through promoting financial inclusion, healthy financial transactions to stimulate growth, stabilizing ethical innovations and efficiency in the financial system.
It states that establishing a clear and objective financial consumer protection regulation, supervision, complaint handling and dispute resolution mechanisms are necessary to promote fair, responsible and transparent financial transactions that shape professional conduct of financial service providers to financial consumers.
It added that addressing the challenges that may occur in relation to innovation and development in the financial infrastructure and products and services that would possibly increase the risks and challenges particularly that low income and less experienced financial consumers face is stated as the reason for issuing the directive.
It added that the reason for issuing the directive was to directly tackle the issues that face the financial consumers through challenges faced in relation to innovation and development in the financial infrastructure and with regard to products and services that may be risky.
The directive that has become effective as of the 25th of August is applicable to any financial service provider, financial product and service, and financial consumers and security providers.
The directive enforces financial service providers to treat all consumers equitably and fairly without discrimination.
It added that special attention and priority should be given for those with particular needs like the socially vulnerable and economically marginalized consumer groups in this case, the inexperienced consumers and the physically disabled.
Regarding transparency and disclosure, a financial service provider shall ensure that financial consumers and security providers are provided with accurate, simple, clearly expressed and timely information about the features, likely risks, obligations and other terms and cost of any financial product or service or security they are considering.
The directive has prohibited unfair contractual terms against a financial consumers or security provider.
It has also barred financial providers from changing a financial consumer an interest in advance for credit. It added that charged interest should only be based on an annual percentage applied to the unpaid balance of the loan.
According to the directive that is 50 pages long, the board of directors at financial service providers shall approve appropriately detailed policies and procedures, and submit to NBE to ensure effective implantation and compliance of the directive within three months from issuance of this directive.
Internal complaint handling unit shall be formed to the providers with required resources.
The financial institutions may penalize 10,000 birr for each violation of the provisions of the directive.
The directive added that NBE may in addition to the penalty stated above take any another measures it considers necessary.