Reps Urges CBN to Retract Cybersecurity Levy Directive

Members of the House of Representatives have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to retract its directive regarding the implementation of the 0.5 per cent cybersecurity levy, citing ambiguity in the circular.
The decision came following a motion moved by honourable Kingsley Chinda, highlighting concerns over conflicting interpretations between the CBN directive and the specifications outlined in the Cybersecurity Act.
According to the Green House, the CBN is to withdraw the initial circular, and “issue a more understandable one”.
The CBN had issued a circular on May 6, 2024, instructing banks, mobile money operators, and payment service providers to implement a cybersecurity levy in accordance with the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Amendment Act 2024.
Under the Act, a levy amounting to 0.5 per cent of the value of electronic transactions is to be collected and remitted to the National Cybersecurity Fund overseen by the Office of the National Security Adviser.
Details Of The Circular
Levy Implementation: Financial institutions are required to apply the levy at the point of electronic transfer origination. The deducted amount is to be explicitly noted in customer accounts under the descriptor “Cybersecurity Levy” and remitted by the financial institution.
Implementation Timeline: Financial institutions are required to start implementing the levy within two weeks from the issuance of the Circular. By implication, the deduction of the levy by financial institutions should commence on 20 May 2024. However, financial institutions are to make their remittances in bulk to the NCF account domiciled at the CBN by the 5th business day of every subsequent month.
The circular also stipulates a timeframe for financial institutions to reconfigure their systems towards ensuring complete and timely submission of remittance files to the Nigeria Interbank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) Plc as follows:
Commercial, Merchant, Non-Interest, and Payment Service Banks – Within 4 weeks of the issuance of the Circular;
All other Financial Institutions (Microfinance Banks, Primary Mortgage Banks, Development Financial Institutions) – Within 8 weeks of the issuance of the Circular.
Penalties for Non-Compliance: The CBN has emphasised strict adherence to this mandate, warning that any financial institution that fails to comply with the provisions will face severe penalties. As outlined in the Act, non-compliant entities are subject to a minimum fine of 2% of their annual turnover upon conviction.
Exemptions: The Circular provides a list of transactions currently deemed eligible for exemption, to avoid multiple application of the levy. These are: Loan disbursements and repayments, Salary payments, Intra-account transfers within the same bank or between different banks for the same customer, and Intra-bank transfers between customers of the same bank
Other exemptions include; Other financial institutions’ instructions to their correspondent banks, Interbank placements, Banks’ transfers to CBN and vice versa, Inter-branch transfers within a bank, Cheque clearing and settlements, Letters of Credits, Banks’ recapitalisation-related funding – only bulk funds movement from collection accounts, Savings and deposits including transactions involving long-term investments such as Treasury Bills, Bonds and Commercial Papers, Government Social Welfare Programs transactions e.g. Pension payments, Non-profit and charitable transactions including donations to registered non-profit organisations or charities, Educational Institutions transactions, including tuition payments and other transactions involving schools, universities or other educational institutions, and Transactions involving the bank’s internal accounts, inter-branch accounts, reserve accounts, nostro and vostro accounts, and escrow accounts.
According to Andersen Global, the introduction of the new levy has elicited mixed reactions from stakeholders as it will inevitably increase the cost of doing business in Nigeria and may impact the growth in adoption of digital transactions. While the government continues its drive to increase revenue, the introduction of this additional levy may appear ill-timed considering the current economic climate vis-a-vis the government’s commitment to the National Tax Policy of 2017 to reduce the number of taxes in Nigeria.
Financial institutions and payment service providers will also need to adjust their financial and operational strategies to accommodate and account for the new levy to ensure they remain compliant while managing additional costs of compliance. More so, business owners who rely heavily on digital transactions for receiving payment may see an increase in operational costs due to considerations on adjustments in pricing and cost transfer. It is therefore important for stakeholders and businesses to analyse the financial impacts of this directive on their cash flow.
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