• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

ATM conundrum in the banking industry    

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The last time I checked, the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) was really giving its users a nightmare that if proper and drastic measure isn’t taken by the apt authorities, it could become a huge burden to its users in the country.

My last trip to Lagos State ushered in a scene which I thought only existed in my home state, Imo. In fact, that of Lagos was even more alarming and worrisome. Initially, I was of the view that I was only viewing a mirage, not until I walked closer to the exact spot of the scene.

Having parked my car at the designated spot in front of one of the commercial banks situated at Iyana Ipaja, I was majestically taking a walk towards the location of the bank’s ATMs till I saw what looked like an Independence Day parade that took place penultimate year at the Eagle’s Square, Abuja. My intention was to get some cash but the unthinkable crowd I encountered made me turn right back.

A lot really needs to be done regarding the use of ATM in Nigeria. The country requires more accurate and efficient technical know-how in the country’s banking industry as regards ATM operations. Technical irregularities or hitches such as out of service, temporarily unable to dispense cash, issuer or switch inoperative, and unreasonable seizing/withholding of transaction cards, among others, which are often encountered while using the machine must be addressed headlong. The ridiculous technical anomalies to include debiting an account without any withdrawal made by the owner, is the most devastating aspect of the ongoing ATM conundrum in Nigeria, among other developing nations.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is expected to intervene especially at this period the country is suffering from an enormous economic crisis. The teeming bank account owners have suffered greatly and it is only proper that the apex bank intervenes to ensure that the country’s dream of seeing an arena filled with thorough cashless banking is duly actualized in the nearest future.

Among all, the routine of loading torn or damaged naira notes in the machines must be stopped by the CBN. How could notes that are meant to be burnt or replaced be loaded in the ATM thereby creating avenue for frequent circulation of torn naira notes? Does it imply that the country’s Mint and Printing section is incapacitated? Though our technology is unarguably in a sorry state but that doesn’t imply that a country like Nigeria cannot print her currency when necessary.

The various branches that are currently making use of only one Automated Teller Machine (ATM) must as a matter of urgency install at least two or more in order to decongest the banking premises thereby curtailing the chances of being invaded or attacked by armed robbers. The various banks should also from time to time update the softwares used for the said machines. It is appalling to realize that most of them are still making use of outdated or trivial softwares.
Against this backdrop, every bank is expected to see its ICT unit as one of the most, if not the most, needed units in the industry so that its viability would be sustained at all cost. Such step would enable the bank to at all times ensure that employing or engaging competent and reliable ICT professionals either as full staff or consultants as the case may be is not compromised.

It is pertinent to note that most of these challenges are usually occasioned by ignorance on the part of the bearers of the ATM cards. Most users of the card in question are yet to acknowledge that the card is not meant to be kept close to electronic devices or any device that possesses a magnetic field such as the radio set, television, handset, computers, laptop, home theatre, speakers, VCD/DVD, and what have you, especially when they are on or in use. Such practice may affect the activeness of the affected card.

Similarly, the users are also meant to comprehend that the card is meant to be safeguarded from any iota of scratch particularly on its silver-coated part. More so, if any part of the card bends, the bearer or owner may not be able to access his/her account via the ATM; and if he/she eventually succeeded in doing so, he might not be able to retrieve the card from the machine after the transaction.

To this end, the banks’ Customer Service Unit is expected to duly orientate their clients the moment they pick the cards as well as ensure that they are regularly sensitized in this regard. The ICT department of every bank should take this coaching aspect as a priority.

The CBN alongside other concerned groups like the civil society really needs to take an urgent step towards ending the various lingering abnormalities faced or practised by the various commercial banks in regard to the use of the ATM as well as its cards; else, it’s likely to cost us an unavoidable setback. Think about it!

 

Fred Nwaozor