HomeTechnologyCash-less ATMS, dysfunctional POS terminals mar Yuletide celebrations
Cash-less ATMS, dysfunctional POS terminals mar Yuletide celebrations
By Prince Osuagwu & Richard Udofia
Those who put so much hope on the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN’s cashless Nigeria initiative, particularly in Lagos metropolis, got a rude shock during the Yuletide. Some of them were left with a sour festive season with cashless Automated Teller Machines, ATMs and dysfunctional Point of Sale, POS terminals.
During the Christmas period, it was all hue and cries for people in Satellite, Maza-Maza and Festac Town areas who depended on the cashless project, to pay for goods and services or withdraw cash from ATMs outside banking hours.
On the Christmas eve particularly, a long queue of users were frustrated at ATM points in almost all the banks in Maza Maza- Satellite town axis as their transactions couldn’t get through.
A tour of Festac Town and Apapa areas of Lagos on new year eve also revealed a similar situation with huge crowd of people at different ATM locations in 23, 41 and 4th avenue roads in Festac and Berger yard areas of Apapa respectively, wearing long faces because the ATMS could not yield to all their attempts to get money out of them
Majority of the people who spoke to Hi-Tech expressed fear of spending the New Year celebration without food and drinks just like it happened to some, during Xmas.
A seemingly frustrated young woman, who later identified herself as Mrs Ifeka, could not control her soliloquy; “what will I tell this children when I get home. How can I face them at home without the things I promised to buy in the market? I think this whole ATM thing is a massive failure in Nigeria if it cannot serve good purpose at a time like this”
Another disappointed user who spoke to Vanguard, Mr Donald Ayorinde, felt disgusted that at a time when the government was supposed to make the benefits of cashless economy count, users were inadvertently made to distrust the system. “I lived in the United Kingdom for over ten years before coming back to this country last year.
I never experienced this kind of embarrassment. When, if not this time, would the government show the benefits of the cashless initiative it has been preaching about? Or are the banks deliberately sabotaging the project? How can all the ATMs in Lagos suddenly refuse to work during preparatory to Xmas and new year celebrations?
“Do you even know the worst of it all, is that you can hardly buy anything in any shop, no matter how big, and pay with your card. You either hear that the POS terminals are faulty or the shop attendants do not know how to operate them. I think it is only in Nigeria that I have heard this kind of stories; and if I may ask, what is the essence of cashless Nigeria when you can neither pay for goods and services with your card nor withdraw from the ATM to attend to an urgent need? You guys have a lot of work to do, for real!” He added.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, sometime in 2011 began to nurse the idea of a cashless economy as practiced by other developing and developed nations of the world. By January 2012, it rolled out the first implementation phase with Lagos state as beneficiary.
However, July 1 2013, it extended the number of implementing states to five, including Rivers, Kano, Anambra, Ogun and Abia as well as the FCT.
The aim was to reduce the dominance of cash in the economy by discouraging cash based transactions and promoting more of card and other electronic based transactions.
However, with a reported 40 percent of the point of sales terminals nationwide dysfunctional, the project may have not totally served its purpose.
Even with another phase of the cashless policy kick starting in the third quarter of last year, several opinions are that not much success has been recorded as an average businessman/woman still enjoys exchanging physical cash for business transactions.
Some of the problems so far identified, included less knowledge on its workability, high rate of illiteracy, insufficient terminals, high rate of technological deficiency, among others. Several opinions seem to favour a more relevant awareness campaign, publicity and sensitization of the masses on the operational use of the POS machine both in Lagos and the other five states in the second phase of the project.
On the contrary, the executive secretary, Electronic Payment Providers Association of Nigeria, E-PPAN, Mrs Onajite Regha however, argued that the cashless initiate introduced in Lagos was recording huge success, and has continued to impact positively on Lagosians and Nigerians respectively.
Although she admitted that the issue of connectivity to the POS terminals remained a major challenge, she also believed that with an average volume of 591,000 transactions on monthly basis, the cashless policy has exceeded projections in Lagos..
For her, “we need better connectivity to these terminals so as to encourage more public usage, but there is also the need for every stakeholder to contribute towards the full utilization of these machines and a permanent solution to connectivity issues.
Meanwhile, a close source at the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System, NIBBS, who pledged anonymity, promised that things will soon take a different look. “We are working with the telecommunication companies to ensure improvement on the POS terminals. With different network upgrades, the telcos are engaging in at the moment, the problems would soon be rectified”.