As the scarcity of the new naira notes continues to impact various businesses, cinema operators are now encouraging customers to use digital payments.
The operators said that digital payment was previously a secondary option for customers due to network issues that could result in failed and reversed transactions, but given the current situation: the February 10 deadline for old naira notes and scarcity of new naira notes, they are now encouraging customers to use digital payment as the first option.
According to BusinessDay findings, the new naira notes are still in short supply, with many people unable to cash them before the deadline amid scanty dispensing from ATMs.
“Because of the new currency and its scarcity, we encourage customers to pay with their ATM card and also do transfer, though we still accept cash if the two options are not in place, particularly when the network is bad,” said Emmanuel Onyeka, operation manager at Genesis Cinema.
“Although there are challenges to this, such as network issues from the bank app, which delays customers from purchasing movie tickets and other items, during transfer there must be a confirmation from our end before proceeding to render service. If there is a network issue, it affects the customer proclaim service, but 80 percent of transactions currently are digital payment”.
However, crippling scarcity has marred the rollout of the new notes with Nigerians struggling without success to obtain them. Across banking halls, ATMs, and agent banking shops around the country, new notes are currently either being rationed or simply unavailable given the short supply.
David Rotimi, a cinemagoer who went to the cinema this week, told BusinessDay that he prefers digital payment over cash. In fact, he has been using his ATM for all of his transactions this week, including the purchase of movie tickets, because the few ATMs that are dispensing are always crowded.
He also added that most times he goes to the cinema to watch movies he has always been paying with his ATM.
In 2012, the apex bank introduced the cashless policy, which was meant to curb excessive handling of cash and to curtail the volume of cash in circulation.
The policy was introduced to drive development and modernisation of payment systems capable of placing Nigeria among the top 20 economies in the world.
According to Joseph Atah, manager of Silverbird Cinema in Lagos, the scarcity of naira has enabled them to add more point of sale machines (PoS) to the ones they already have because more payments are now made through it.
“We lost a few customers before the extension for the exchange of old naira because we couldn’t accept old naira notes from our customers, but the majority of transactions are now done through our POS”.
Atah went on to say that if digital payment worked flawlessly without failed transactions or bank network failure, it would be the best option for paying for movie tickets.