Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has unveiled regulations for the payment of bills in the country, explaining that the move was to document the minimum standards that must be complied with for the processing of bill payment transactions.
In a circular released on its website at the weekend, the apex also stressed that the regulation is also to identify stakeholders in bill payment system space, ensure achievement of the vision of a ‘nationally utilized and international recognized’ payments system in Nigeria as well as to ensure adequate protection for the stakeholders in the bill payment system space.
According to the central bank, “Any person or entity desirous of operating a bill payment platform shall apply to the CBN for a license or be integrated to a duly licensed PSP.”
In addition, “All Inter-Bank transactions initiated and authorized on the bill payment platform shall be cleared via the Nigeria Clearing System and settled via Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS).”
Likewise, “Each component payment method implemented on the platform shall be in accordance with the rules issued by Central Bank of Nigeria to guide the conduct of market activities for relevant payment channels.”
On the operational procedure, the apex bank said, “There shall be a Service Level Agreement (SLA) executed between the platform provider and the Biller, as a condition for on-boarding,” which “shall provide the terms for engagement, roles and responsibilities of the parties, minimum service delivery commitments, obligations of the parties and penalties, as applicable.”
The CBN further said, “SLAs shall be reviewed periodically to ensure alignment with industry/regulatory changes, or appropriate provisions made to take cognizance of mandatory changes that may come into play after implementation.”
It noted that the minimum commitments to service availability would be defined and incorporated in the Dispute Resolution System (DRS) and SLA, and properly communicated to the users of the service.
The bank said transaction status upon completion must be sent by the biller to the payer and a procedure shall be in place for change management and shall include major releases, maintenance calendars and conditions for emergency upgrades and notification process.
On the Dispute Resolution System (DRS), the apex bank said payments shall be final and irrevocable and be consistent with the provision of the circular on the Statement of Payments Finality.
“All requests for refunds/recalls shall be via a dispute resolution system or other supplementary rules that guide the operations of the relevant payment method.
“Service Providers shall make an automated dispute resolution platform available to facilitate seamless resolution of complaints.
“Disputes arising from Bills Payment transactions shall be resolved amicably amongst the parties in line with the provisions of the guidelines on Operations of Electronic Payment Channels in Nigeria,” the CBN said.
It disclosed that, “Each platform shall be able to receive payment for multiple billers, clear transactions and settle such transactions through existing settlement mechanisms.”
On the scope of the regulations, the central bank said it covers bill payments on various payment channels and any payment platform that seeks to integrate the payment side of commercial activity and merchant aggregators in Nigeria.
“The payment methods include Cheques, Cards, Direct Debit, Instant Payments, and Automated Clearing House, etc,” it said.
Source: Comms Week