2 July 2017

Hafiz Adewuyi

Transfer money between Nigerian bank accounts for free

Or cheaper than your bank would charge anyway ;)

Before May 2017, the average charge for inter-bank funds transfers across Nigerian banks was 100 Naira per transaction. However, the CBN recently issued an edict to all Nigerian banks which stipulates that from May 1 2017, commercial banks are to charge exactly 50 Naira for funds transfers to other local banks.

CBN 50 Naira charge specification for Electronic Funds transfer within Nigeria (Commercial banks)
CBN charge specification for Electronic Funds transfer within Nigeria (Commercial banks)

Interestingly, while the CBN guide separates the charges for inter-bank and intra-bank transfer for micro-finance banks, there's no such distinction for commercial banks. Hence, it seems to be at the individual bank's discretion to decide the charge (or lack thereof) for intra-bank transactions.

CBN charge specification for Electronic Funds transfer within Nigeria (MFBs)
CBN charge specification for Electronic Funds transfer within Nigeria (MFBs)

In spite of the bank-wide reduction in electronic transfer charges, there are still cheaper ways to transfer money between Nigerian bank accounts without using a bank-controlled channel. I share the details of the ones I'm aware of at the moment below.

Kudi.ai (Kudi-dot-ai, a payment chatbot)

Buying airtime from the kudi.ai chatbot
Buying airtime from the kudi.ai chatbot

Essentially, you can do electronic transfer from your Nigerian bank account by chatting with a robot; that's it. You can use any of the following options to interact with the chatbot:

  • Facebook Messenger
  • Skype Messenger
  • Telegram (who uses that in Nigeria?)
  • Web via browser (https://chat.kudi.ai)

Just visit https://www.kudi.ai to begin. 'Kudi' is a Hausa word which translates to 'money'. Maybe one day, I will vex and go and build my own Owo.ai too :D [rushes to go check if owo.ai domain name has been claimed]


Yes! Now I have all I need to give kudi.ai a run for its money

FUN FACT: Did you know that the .ai TLD (top-level domain) is for Anguilla?

Kudi.ai will also allow you do the other usual electronic transactions like buying airtime and paying utility bills. As at the time of writing this article, the only payment option available for use on kudi.ai is the ATM card linked to your bank account. So far, I've been able to use my GTB Naira Mastercard and my Fidelity Verve card successfully on Kudi.ai.

I won't be surprised though, if when this really gains transaction, Nigerian banks started blocking their cards from working on kudi.ai as a way to slow transaction income leakage. I think that would be a huge blow from the banks in the epic Bank vs. FinTech battles.

If this happens, it won't be the first time a Nigerian bank pulled that kind of move. Back in 2013/2104 when Interswitch Quickteller gained a lot of traction, it did not take long for GTBank to restrict their customers' usage of Quickteller for electronic transfers. Of course, this meant that the customer had only one option to transfer money out of their GTBank account; use a GTBank-controlled channel (online/mobile/USSD/branch).

ThriveSend

Thrivesend charges 45 Naira only for local bank transfers. Just like Kudi, the only payment option available is your ATM card . As long as that remains the case, services like this only survive as long as each Nigerian bank allows its card to work on the platform. Sad.


Is there a CBN edict that would prevent a bank from doing this? I'm curious.

Sorry Thrive mayte; but haven't you heard of Kudi.ai yet?
Es sir; but haven't you heard of Kudi.ai yet?


Conclusion

I can empathize with the strong inhibition many Nigerians have towards sharing their card information online with third parties. However, from my experience of using my debit card online for the past 5 years and having never been a victim of any online fraud, I would say it's pretty safe to use your card online in Nigeria. Below are some precautions I take to mitigate the risk of card fraud on my Nigerian bank accounts:

  • I ensure the merchant's website and/or payment platform is fairly reputable and that they are SSL-secured (Have 'https' in the URL)
  • I don't keep my life savings in an account which is linked to any of my cards

Happy free transfer through Kudi.ai; while stocks last. Also, feel free to act on that impulse to transfer some coffee money to me for providing you with this juicy information. Yes, I had to take coffee to stay up to rewrite this article after losing the initial draft to a careless page refresh :'( :'(

Off topic: Zoto recharge versus USSD recharge

Talking about sharing card details with third parties reminds me of a time when I tried to get my friend to sign up to Zoto app. Signing up requires entering your card details into the app and doing an OTP/token verification against your bank. For one, my friend was wary about using his card on yet another 'Nigerian' app. Also, the trouble was apparently not worth it, considering the existence of very seamless USSD recharge which everyone in Nigeria who has an ATM card account today can potentially access.

So, that my friend, is how I missed a golden opportunity to win free 1000 Naira airtime (Zoto referral reward) for me (and my friend). Obviously, even 1000 Naira free airtime was not enough motivation for my friend to join the Zoto app. I can only imagine what the fate of Zoto would be when their airtime-sharing spree comes to an end. The odds are just against a mobile app if the same service it offers is easily accessible over USSD.

Zoto recharge vs. USSD recharge; odds are against Zoto
Zoto recharge vs. USSD recharge; odds are against Zoto


P.S.

If you know of any cheap or free electronic transfer method within Nigeria which is not listed here, kindly share the details in the comments section below. After due verification, the article will be updated accordingly.

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3 comments

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2 July 2017 at 19:58 delete

Hi Hafeez,

Great job fam. I love your blogposts. Always informative and exciting.

To the issue at hand. I have used Kudi.ai twice on web and sent money with my GTB MasterCard. I wasn't sure if I was charged the first time but my book balance was higher than my available balance by some NGN 105. I sent money to a Keystone bank today and I did my calculation. Book Balance is NGN 50 higher than Available Balance. I am of the opinion that this is the service fee for interbank transfer that I'm being charged by using Kudi.ai. My Account is current so I don't know if this is a factor.

Weirdly, I don't see the transaction log on my internet banking dashboard and I am yet to get an alert but I have been debited by the amount sent and an extra NGN 50. I have also not gotten an email or SMS alert.

I don't know why I have been lazy to type and send my observation to the Kudi folks and I'm here typing epistle. I guess anointing to type just fell on me.

And yeah, I have not had the chance to appreciate you for the help you offered me some two years ago when I was trying to start a PAYG solar energy Business. The business didn't kick off due to forex issues and poor market research + misfit in management team. However I'm thankful for what you taught me.

Bless

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2 July 2017 at 20:57 delete

Hi Adura,

Thanks for the comment.

You should definitely send your observations to the kudi.ai team. The last time I used my GTB mastercard on kudi.ai, I noticed my available balance was about 200 Naira lower than my book balance after the transfer.

But it regularized after a day or so, meaning the available balance went back up to reach the book balance

I hope I was observant enough though and that the reality is not that I was actually charged for the transfer from my GTB Mastercard :D

You're welcome as per my help two years ago. How time flies

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6 July 2017 at 06:41 delete

Hello Hafiz,

You are very right. I observed my NGN 50 has been returned. So yeah, with kudi.ai, one can make interbank transfer for free.

Good job boss.

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