• Thursday, April 25, 2024
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Nigerians flock to Opay, Palmpay, others amid naira crunch

Need to adopt e-payment channels as cashless policy comes to stay

While the banking public face double whammy of naira notes scarcity and electronic transaction failures, some Nigerians are now turning to payment solution providers, like Opay, Palmpay, among others as a way out of the quagmire.

A lot of people have experienced disappointments over transaction failures due to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System plc (NIBSS) system crash last week, findings showed.

Electronic payment transactions’ failure includes PoS debit errors, cards’ rejection, and PoS network glitches. As of 2019, the failure rate of the transactions on PoS stood at 15.68 percent. NIBSS recorded 137,132 failure rates, for just one day, according to data from NIBSS.

“I transferred N3,000 with my GTBank account to Access Bank, last two weeks and up till now the person has not received it and it has not been reversed,” said an artisan who identified himself as Johnson.

Another customer said his N80,000, which he transferred to another customer, is still hanging for the past one week.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on December 15, 2022 rolled out the redesigned naira and planned to phase out the old naira notes by January 31, 2023, but following strong pressure from the national assembly and members of the public, it extended it to February 10, 2023, after which the old naira notes cease to be legal tender.

Last week, a lot of Nigerians complained of failed bank transfers, and poor mobile internet banking services that have hindered payments and other financial activities.

Akeem Okanlawon, a trader of sanitary wares, said that despite traditional banks’ incompetence some mobile money operators have stepped up to the task.

“I made an instant transfer to a bread vendor using an Opay account, it’s the fastest transfer I have done recently. I have been able to send money to my workers through PoS guys that use Opay, and they get it instantly. I’m thinking of opening an Opay account myself.”

Olatide Olayinka, a student at the University of Lagos said “I was trying to transfer money to people during the weekend using my bank app and USSD and I couldn’t, I asked my brother to help transfer using his Opay account and he was able to make the transfers immediately.”

Responding to these complaints Godwin Emefiele, governor of the CBN, said, “we are mindful of the challenges some citizens have faced and are addressing them.”

He noted that there have been reports of occasional failures in e – channel platforms. “Our monitoring suggests that whilst there has been an expected surge in electronic transactions, these have not risen to unprecedented levels and the payment system is well equipped to handle even higher transaction volumes,” Emefiele said, adding that whilst transaction failures are bound to occasionally occur, the public is encouraged to have full confidence in Nigeria’s globally recognised payment system infrastructure. Banks have also been instructed to ensure 24/7 service availability and promptly address any customer refunds arising from such service failures.

Furthermore, as the cost of living crisis escalates with the new naira notes scarcity across the country, many Nigerian students have resolved to use mobile banking to effect transactions on campus.

The continued scarcity of naira notes across the country is crippling businesses, and social life on campus, especially among students which have resulted into protests from some universities such as University of Benin and University of Ibadan.

Ndigwe Ifeanyi, a law student at Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo in Ogun State told BusinessDay that the new naira notes initially came with a lot of optimism, but the students are disillusioned with the outcome of events in recent time whereby they rely only on mobile banking to transact.

“Students now have to rely solely on mobile bank transfers on our phones with deductions from the banks for every transfer made.

Those of us that have the old notes aren’t finding it easy to deposit them in the bank. The PoS vendors are really living the life as a withdrawal of N5,000 attracts a charge of not less than N1,000 which is very discouraging,” he said.

Ndigwe stated that the use of transfers on students’ smartphones is the most convenient way so far. This according to him is because the banks at the university’s annex campus were not dispensing the new notes but the main campus has active banks that should be dispensing the new naira notes.

Deposit money banks have taken additional measures to quicken the flow of naira notes. These measures, among others, include deployment of extra technical supports for online payments, additional security at ATMs to ensure all-clock usage, technological back-up to reduce online downtime to the barest minimum, additional staff deployment to counters to attend to cash transactions and timely interbank and inter-branch networking to bridge any gap.

Similarly, another student, Ifunanya, from the mass communication department of Babcock University, said the naira scarcity is affecting her so much that she cannot even go to the banks to make any transactions or withdrawal because of the number of people there.

“I cannot buy data or send money because of the bad network of Zenith Bank. The new currency is not in circulation and I cannot use the old one because of it being rejected here so I have to use my card, and in using my card, the banks charge extra.

“PoS vendors are charging N200 for every N1000 transaction, and it’s so crazy. This has made me stop withdrawing money,” she said.

Ifunanya further explained that she buys things on campus through USSD transfer because her bank’s app was not functioning well in the face of the crisis.

They are but it is still the old notes; maybe they have started dispensing new notes I haven’t checked.

Oreh, a postgraduate student of mass communication at the university of Lagos lamented the fact that students cannot access the new naira notes because only a few banks were loaded on campus.

Read also: Naira Redesign: Court stops CBN from extending deadline

Kazeem Alabi, also from the university of Lagos said the worrisome to him is that people are selling the new notes on campus.

Elizabeth Emwanta, a student from the University of Benin, Edo State, said the hardship is biting hard with the banks not being able to dispense cash.

Adimike Onyinye, a student of medical radiography at the University of Nigeria, Enugu campus, said the naira scarcity is making everything weird, although since the deadline was extended, a lot of people have been allowing the old currency.

Onyinye told BusinessDay that PoS vendors charge varying exorbitant amounts from their clients.

“Some charge N100 naira per N1,000 note, some charge N150, while a few charge N200. I hardly buy things but at the same time I have cash and I do transfer or pay with a card too,” she said.

Josephine Ekpe, a social work and human services department at Babcock University decried the hardship caused by naira scarcity on campus.

“It’s been difficult as people from the outside community have been coming in and out of my school because of the banking area here and the crowd in those places are horrendous and students have difficulty passing through,” she said.

For Ugwokaegbe Chidera, a student of medicine and surgery at Abia State University, the new naira issue affects the students sore in that they are unable to purchase goods and services as freely as we would like.

Besides, the PoS vendors charge 20 percent extra on the money exchanged.

“We buy things mostly by transferring the money to the seller, because the banks in my school are not dispensing cash.