The Federal Government (FG), through the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), has issued a cease-and-desist order to Point of Sale (PoS) operators from conduct that constitutes an infringement of the law.
This follows the move by PoS operators, under the umbrella of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN), to fix new prices for PoS transactions.
The new pricing model began on July 17, 2023.
According to the commission, PoS operators that are found in violation of the order will pay N10m for corporate entities and N1m and, or, a prison sentence of up to three months for individuals.
The FCCPC, in a statement signed by its Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer, Babatunde Irukera, on Monday, said:
“The Commission advises PoS operators that violation of an order of the Commission attracts additional consequences apart from the underlying illegal conduct that is the subject of the order such as up to N10,000,000 for corporate entities; and N1,000,000 and or a prison sentence of up to three months for individuals.”
The commission noted that it has not sought to limit the prerogative of PoS service providers to determine and set prices for services in a manner of their choosing, subject to Section 127 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018, which prohibits manifestly unjust or exploitative prices.
It stated that it respects and encourages a pricing methodology that is the product of market forces in a free, competitive, and undistorted market. However, it said there is no evidence that the PoS market lacks sufficient players or competition in Lagos or anywhere else.
The commission said, “While the Commission continues to provide consideration to, and for small businesses, enforcing the law must remain non-negotiable.
“Accordingly, the Commission, in escalating this in accordance with the FCCPA and ancillary instruments, has entered an Order & Notice (ONC) of the Commission to AMMBAN, persons identified as executives, members, and non-member PoS operators to Cease and Desist from conduct that constitutes an infringement of the law.”
It said the ONC had been served on AMMBAN. It was also noted that not all members can be personally served or will become aware through service on AMMBAN.
It further stated, “In addition, some persons, such as non-AMMBAN members, may become subject to the ONC. Accordingly, the Commission has, and is by this again publicly disseminating the ONC. Members are however invited to consider sufficiency of service of the ONC under Section 158(4) of the FCCPA which deems such service on their association or executives as adequate and acceptable.”
According to the commission, it had tried the cautious and collaborative approach but has now adopted the ONC to convey its will to enforce the law, including, and up to prosecuting violators and affiliates who may otherwise be statutorily liable for the conduct of a violating company or business.
It added, “In addition to stipulated statutory consequences, although the Commission prefers not to disrupt the business and operations of small enterprises, it will (if it becomes necessary) prohibit merchant services and privileges to PoS operators or AMMBAN members who persist in conduct that is inconsistent with law and economic efficiency.”