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BusinessDay

Regulatory pressure pays off as e-banking services improve

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There is an apparent improvement in the quality and efficiency of electronic payments services, which was evident during the holiday season, BusinessDay reports.

Regulatory pressure by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has compelled financial institutions to step up investment in the expansion of their respective online banking platforms and channels.

This move, according to industry analysts, has in turn led to the rise in the adoption levels of e-payment services.

According to second quarter report on the electronic transaction activities for the year released by the Nigerian Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS), which is the official PoS aggregator in the country, PoS records an average volume of 591,000 transactions on a monthly basis.

Statistics have also shown that Nigerians who make use of NIBSS Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) system to send money transferred over N11.63 trillion between January and October in 2013, according to a report.

NIBSS Electronic Funds Transfer is a system where a bank customer issues an instruction for a specific amount of money to be transferred to a beneficiary who is a customer of another bank. Though issues of downtime and poor connectivity, industry watchers say, still persists, many banks in the last four months, have upgraded their respective online banking platforms and electronic channels to not only meet the peculiarities of the Nigerian market but also, in anticipation of the spike in online transaction during holiday period.

BusinessDay gathered that across the country, banking halls were closed to customers from December 24 till 27 due to the holidays. Many bank customers had to resort to electronic channels such as Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale (PoS) terminals, Internet banking as well as mobile payments services to not only consummate financial transactions but also access their funds. There are about 25 million bank accounts in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. Deposit money banks have doubled their efforts to boost ATMs and PoS penetration across the country, in a bid to meet CBN’s cashless Nigeria project. As at the end of 2013, according to the apex bank, there were about 11,000 ATMs in the country.e-banking

As at 2011, there were 9,640 ATMs deployed across the country, whilst as at December 2010, Nigeria had 9,958 ATMs. Two years into the take-off of the cashless initiative, the number of PoS terminals deployed by the banking sector in Nigeria has hit 200,000. Interestingly, out of this figure, only 40 percent of them are said to be working efficiently at the moment. Bank customers have expressed mixed feelings about the efficiency of electronic channels, though there seems to be a general consensus of an overall improvement.

“I think they have done relatively well so far. But there are still the issues of frequent downtime on ATMs and PoS machines. On Boxing Day, I tried to use my debit card at one of the banks’ ATM in Satellite Town, Lagos but the network was down”, Kayode Akinyemi, a bank customer told BusinessDay.