With the festive season losing its sparkle due to economic hardship and cash shortages, the struggles have been further aggravated by the slow performance of digital payment platforms. Following the June crisis of cash scarcity, numerous banking clients have been compelled to resort to electronic channels for carrying out their financial transactions. Yet across Nigeria, countless individuals are feeling frustrated by the continuous failure of transactions and numerous bank fees, despite their reliance on e-payment systems that have gained significant popularity.
The electronic payment channels encountering issues are automated teller machines (ATM), point of sale (POS) terminals, the Nigeria Interbank Payment System (NIP), as well as the unstructured supplementary service data (USSD). Despite the astonishing surge in ATM installations nationwide, rising from 10,000 in 2011 to 22,500 by December 2022, it is evident that the present quantity of ATMs falls short in fulfilling the cashless policy initiative, giving the rising number of bank users and the prolonged queues observed at ATMs.
Cash withdrawal limit imposed by the CBN is still effective.
In addition to the ongoing challenge with ATMs and POS terminals, the USSD platform adds to these woes during the festive period. Numerous users raised concerns regarding failed transactions, as they complained about being charged for transfers that were not successful eventually. During this particular period, bank transfer applications failed to alleviate the situation, returning Nigerians to the plight experienced in previous months when transactions intermittently encountered difficulties. The issues were widespread nationwide, affecting customers not only in Lagos but also in other states.
Banks in Ogun have been urged by certain residents to enhance their professionalism, primarily in their customer service operations. Oluwasegun Elegbede, the recently elected General Secretary of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN), spoke to the press regarding the conduct of POS operators, saying that the group’s members should not be held accountable for the prevailing circumstances. Elegbede explained that the cash withdrawal limit imposed by the CBN is still effective. He noted that banks distribute amounts proportionally, claiming that the cash they receive from the Apex bank falls short to cater for everyone.
Main issue affecting banks lies in their technology capability.
Elegbede further explained that cash is the primary asset for an agent. The agent’s dedication in acquiring cash and the expenses involved in obtaining it are crucial factors that determine the resulting cost to be imposed. Elegbede emphasized the organization’s commitment to conducting extensive evaluations of all affiliated agents in order to fish out dishonest individuals who are undermining and degrading the association’s reputation. By 2024, a distinctive identification system will be implemented for all members, he added.
He mentioned the group’s plan to explore various options for procuring cash to support members and boost their businesses, ultimately benefiting the general public. Speaking on the hurdles faced by the banking sector, Kehinde Aluko, an expert in telecommunication and technology, highlighted the significant strain on banks’ technological framework. Aluko said the primary issue plaguing the banks lies in the capability of their technology. The volume of transactions is causing a great burden on the majority of banks, and regrettably, their systems are not consistently operational. These network issues occur quite frequently when the systems become overloaded with numerous tasks.
Fintech operations are not completely seamless.
Aluko emphasized the crucial need for Deposit Money Banks (DMB) to strengthen their systems, arguing that modern banking should prioritize efficiency and flawlessness. However, there has been a noticeable decline in the satisfactory service provided to the banking public. Aluko praised the commendable contributions of Fintech companies, highlighting their earlier and later provision of smooth e-transaction services to Nigerians. In the absence of Fintech companies, the crisis would have undoubtedly posed immense challenges for the general public. Nonetheless, he asserts that Fintech operations are not completely seamless, urging customers to stay vigilant against cybercriminals to ensure safety.