FCCPC to prosecute POS operators violating order over increase in charges
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has vowed to prosecute Point of Sales (POS) operators that violate its order over the proposed increase in their charges.
The Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, in a statement, said this is an update on the potential anti-competitive conduct in the POS operators’ association in setting their prices.
AMMBAN in June said that the recent increase in POS transaction charges is a reflection of the current economic climate in the country.
FCCPC in early July warned the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN), its members and POS operators from engaging in price-fixing or implementing changes in the prices of services they render.
“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 ora prison sentence of up to three months for individuals,” Irukera said.
He said that 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.
Irukera said that the Commission from monitoring news channels, and continuing surveillance regarding subjects of regulatory concern has become aware of what appears to be an adamance of AMMBAN and insistence on a membership-wide implementation of illegal conduct.
He stated specifically that certain news reports suggest that a supposed national publicity secretary of the purported AMMBAN has dismissed regulatory statements while confirming a resolve to execute what has been declared illegal, which is a concerted and coordinated approach to uniformly fixing and implementing prices or modifications thereto.
“The Commission is concerned about such statements, and even more so, such conduct. The impunity associated with defiance or persisting in a course of action prohibited by law, and clearly forbidden by regulators usually constitutes aggravating factors in determining penalties for illegal conduct where applicable,” Irukera added.
“Considering that membership of AMMBAN probably consists mainly of small businesses and creates employment for young and mostly vulnerable citizens, the Commission adopted advocacy and business education as the tool to promote and enforce obedience to the law. This is a prudential, not weak or helpless approach to ensuring compliance, and it underscores the Commission’s proportionality approach to its consequence management system; and interpretation of the law.
“To be clear, the Commission 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 (FCCPA), which prohibits manifestly unjust or exploitative prices.
“As a matter of fact, and to the contrary, the Commission respects and encourages a pricing methodology that is the product of market forces in a free, competitive and undistorted market. There is no evidence that the PoS market lacks sufficient players or competition in Lagos which is the subject of the announcement, or anywhere else for that matter.
“The Commission welcomes the inherent powers and discretion of each PoS operator to set their prices based on their own internal mechanisms and relevant markets, providing consumers with choices and the best possible prices while ensuring profitability.”
The FCCPA, Irukera noted, provides the Commission with statutory tools to ensure compliance and penalise violations of the law and as previously noted, some of these penalties are stiff.
Irukera explained that 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 constitute an infringement of the law.
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