PoS operators are free to increase prices but no price fixing – FCCPC
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has said that it is not against individual PoS operators increasing their prices as they deem fit to make a profit from the business. However, it says the law frowns at the attempt by the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN) to fix the prices for its members.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Mr Babatunde Irukera, who stated this in a statement released on Monday, said the FCCPC would not allow any attempt to create a PoS business cartel that fixes prices, a Nairametrics report says.
The statement reads:
“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 internal mechanisms and relevant markets, providing consumers with choices and the best possible prices while ensuring profitability,Mr Babatunde Irukera, Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC
He asserts that the Commission has not attempted to restrict the freedom of PoS service providers to choose how to determine and set prices for their services, subject to Section 127 of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2018 (FCCPA), which forbids prices that are obviously unfair or exploitative.
While frowning at AMMBAN’s disregard for its earlier warning over the plan to fix prices, Irukera said the Commission was concerned about statements emanating from the executives of the association.
Irukera continued by saying that the FCCPA gives the Commission legal tools to guarantee compliance and punish legal infractions. As was already said, some of these fines are severe. The enforcement of the law must continue to be non-negotiable, he continued, even as the Commission continues to provide regard to and for small enterprises.
He, however, noted that the Commission would continue to use the advocacy approach while it would not hesitate to impose penalties when necessary.
FCCPC advocacy approach
Noting that the Commission is not weak, Irukera said the FCCPC has adopted advocacy to enforce obedience to the law because the PoS business is dominated by young Nigerians who are creating jobs for themselves.
“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,” he said.
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
“Accordingly, the Commission in escalating this by the FCCPA and ancillary instruments, has entered an Order & Notice (ONC) of the Commission to AMMBAN, persons identified as executives, members, and non-member operators to cease from conduct that constitute an infringement of the law. Consequently, the ONC was issued by the Commission and served on AMMBAN,” he said.
Penalties for infringements
The Commission’s boss stated that the ONC conveyed the Commission’s desire 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, while also insisting that the Commission would not hesitate to sanction any PoS operator where it was determined that the law had been broken.
He warned operators that breaking a Commission order might result in fines up to N10,000,000 for corporate entities and N1,000,000 and/or a three-month jail sentence for individuals, in addition to the underlying illegal behaviour that is the subject of the order.