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CAC registration: Police to go after illegal PoS operators

CAC registration: Police to go after illegal PoS operators

The Federal Government has said mandatory registration of Point-of-Sales operators nationwide will reduce kidnapping and help security agencies arrest recipients of ransom payments from kidnap victims.

It also vowed that security agencies would go after PoS operators who fail to comply with the directive to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission after July 7, 2024.

The Registrar-General, CAC, Hussaini Magaji, disclosed this at the formal launch of the CAC registration of agents and merchants of fintechs on Wednesday in Abuja.

The event also marked the unveiling of a 24-hour service centre to help prospective applicants get a prompt response to enquiries and approvals.

The government had through the commission on Monday issued a two-month registration deadline for PoS operators to register as corporate bodies with the commission in line with the legal requirements and directives of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The action backed by Section 863, Subsection 1 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, CAMA 2020 as well as the 2013 CBN guidelines on agent banking aims to safeguard businesses and strengthen the economy.

It also came against the backdrop of frequent fraud incidents involving PoS terminals and plans to stop trading in cryptocurrency or any virtual currency by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

PoS terminals accounted for 26.37 per cent of fraud incidents in 2023, according to a fraud report by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc.

Last week, the CBN stopped major fintech firms like Kuda, Opay, PalmPay and Moniepoint from onboarding new customers. The fintech firms later warned their customers against trading in cryptocurrency or any virtual currency on their apps, threatening to block any accounts found engaging in such activities.

Speaking at the event, Hussaini reiterated the government’s resolve to fully implement the mandate by providing a fully digitised service centre for easy registration.

He emphasised that the registration process aligns with both legal requirements and the directives of the CBN mandating individual, merchant or business entities to be captured in its database.

He further warned that the 60-day deadline would not be extended while stressing that defaulters would receive adequate punishments after the deadline.

He said, “We have launched a 24-hour service centre to accommodate enquiries from Point of Sales operators and agents who may want to register as directed by the new policy. The secretariat is filled with staff members who have the responsibility of availability, and some are being saddled with the responsibility of approving requests. We have equipped the secretariat with the necessary facilities.

“This is to show you how the government is taking this issue seriously and the centre will be open for a 24-hour service. It will be open for compliance and any feedback from the public especially PoS operators who have been mandated to register their businesses with the commission.”

He added, “We have trained our staff to accommodate these activities and these staff can work from home and that’s why we said 24-hour service. We have equipped them with facilities and they can work from home for approvals and availability segment. The deadline remains 60 days and it will end July 7th.”

The CAC boss further stated that the timeline was not intended to target specific groups or individuals but genuinely aimed at safeguarding businesses.

The CAC boss explained, “Of course, the mandatory registration will reduce crime and fraudulent practices, the commission is hosting data and if any crime is committed anywhere, the security agencies would have to reach us to know the people behind the company and the fraudsters. But if they are not registered, we can’t do anything and that’s the essence of the registration.

“We have had a situation where a ransom is being paid with a PoS terminal and a lot of fraud but after the registration, if anything happens we can provide the details of the persons behind the company to the government. We will capture the picture and other relevant information and this is a good development for the country.”

He stressed that “after the deadline, we would go after defaulters, If you have been identified as a criminal, security agents will go after you, we will go after them because some are being chased by the security agencies already.”

He elaborated on the benefits of registration, emphasising that it goes beyond taxation to encompass access to loans, legality, and compliance with regulatory requirements.

“The law has stated that for any person to carry out business activity in the country, your business must be legitimate and for your business to be legitimate you must register, either you are doing your business as an individual or as an agent, you must register with us.

“The POS terminal holders are doing business, and we are now enforcing part of the provision of the Company and Allied Matters Act. We have been on this issue since December and extending it to July means they have six months. We have provided a timeline in the interest of their business.

PoS operators react

Meanwhile, PoS agents have reacted to the order asking them to register with the CAC.

While some agents agreed with the CBN, many said it would place more burden on the operators, especially those in rural communities.

The National President of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, Sarafa Fasasi, in a reaction on his handles, said the directive was confusing.

“The memo got me confused because the current CBN agent banking regulations allow individuals to be onboarded as agents under the sub-agent category. Currently, Nigeria has over 1.9 million agents of which over 70 per cent are sub-agents without registered businesses, operating under an agent network – super agent arrangements. They are the most penetrating channel of financial inclusion. Now, we want to eliminate them with CAC registration?” he queried.

Fasasi noted that the nation should be able to achieve payment security without reversing the 74 per cent financial inclusion rate.

He posited, “On the suspension of top service providers, majorly non-banks like Opay, Palmpay, Moniepoint, Kuda bank and others from account creation due to alleged foreign exchange and crypto transactions; it would be recalled that before Binance controversies, FX/crypto transactions, at one point or the other, terminated in several accounts or wallets, across all service providers, bank and non-banks. So, all service providers may be guilty and should be suspended to be fair.

“I cannot imagine suspending all commercial banks from opening new bank accounts because of pre-regulation transactions.”

In a similar vein, a Point-of-Sale agent, Ogunfowokan Temitope, located in the Ilasa area of Surulere, Lagos State, said the move was unfair against the agents.

She said, “It is not fair because most of the PoS agents only have a small amount of money. Some even borrowed money to start a business. These set of people, how are they going to cope, and do you know how much it costs to register a business now?”

However, the immediate past president of the association, Victor Olojo, backed the move by the CBN, stating that it was the measure needed for standardisation and enhanced security.

He said, “Because it is a financial matter, the CBN needs to ensure the financial system is well galvanised. Today we see people hawking and handling PoS terminals, who should not even have any business handling.

“Also, this move would weed them off, and enable those with capacity to focus on the business, hence Nigeria being better served.”

He noted that it is a plus for the CAC, adding that millions of unregistered PoS agents are adequately regularised.

“We would begin to have a unique business identity or identifier generated for a specific PoS agent. This means that all PoS accounts opened would now have the proper Know-Your-Customer tier 3 standard where you have all the needed verifications plugged into your account.

“That way, if there are any issues, the PoS agent can be easily traced and arrested, therefore curbing fraudulent practices by agents,” he added.

Corroborating Olojo’s position, a PoS agent located in the Berger area of Lagos State, Sunday Samuel, said the move was laudable as it aimed to standardise the businesses of agents.

He said, “The move is going to help the agents to make their businesses more standardised, however, it is not everybody that would understand it from this perspective.

“There are agents in the rural areas that are not aware of what the Corporate Affairs Commission is all about nor the importance. So, they might find it difficult, and it takes a lot of stress going through the registration procedure. However, looking at it in a normal way, having one’s business registered is a good move”.

Meanwhile, another agent located in the Mowe-Ibafo area of Ogun State, Taiwo Shobowale, argued that the new directive would affect the operators because most of them are not oriented on what it means to be registered with the CAC, adding that these agents take it as a daily source of income.

“Most agents do not see this business as an entity, however, rendering financial services can be very sensitive, as the government wants to be involved. The market is already saturated and fraudulent transactions are rarely traced due to the inadequate KYC rule and a lack of proper documentation.

“In addition, the notice is sudden, and the time frame given is short because it is a project that should last for the rest of the year. The rush would lead to a slowdown in the commission’s system, hence resulting in delays,” Shobowale added.

According to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, there are over 1.9 million PoS terminals deployed by merchants and individuals nationwide.

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