Naira crisis: Business owners count losses

…as failed electronic transactions spike

Business operators in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) say their businesses are experiencing setbacks as a result of increasing failed electronic transactions.

The operator, speaking on Monday in Abuja, said while the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was a good development, its timing was taking a toll on businesses.

They said the rise in poor network, declined transactions, among others was making them lose a lot of customers and money.

They said the apex bank ought to have collaborated with relevant agencies to improve on existing internet infrastructure that would accommodate heavy traffic before implementing the policy.

According to them, the development is affecting a lot of businesses that are trying to pick up after the huge setback caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.

They said unless something urgent was done, businesses would begin to fold up.

Chiamaka Eze, who deals in assorted drinks in one of the major markets in the FCT, said the policy was good.

She, however, said concerned authorities ought to have expanded the internet infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number of people keying into the policy.

Eze said she made only few sales at the weekend, adding that most customers left after several attempts to make cash transfers failed.

“On Saturday, I lost a lot of customers because most of them did not have cash and they could not make online payments.

“Some that succeeded in making payment got debited but I was not credited. I had to let them go after collecting their phone numbers.

“I was hoping that I will be credited but unfortunately as I speak with you, I have not been credited for some of the transactions.

“I have been calling the customers and they keep telling me they have been debited,’’ she said.

She said, “the only option is to lodge a formal complaint at the bank but the question is am I going to be visiting banks for each transaction that fails?

“It is a dire situation because I am caught between not accepting online transfers or risking it and losing money.’’

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Judith Uzo, who sells children’s clothes, said there was a need for the government to work on the infrastructure that would accommodate the number of people using the online facilities.

She said while the policy was commendable, the short notice was “affecting livelihoods and businesses.”

A young man, who sells shoes at Wuse Market, told NAN that he did not make many sales at the weekend because only few customers were able to make online transfers.

He said it was important for the CBN to make the accepted naira notes, particularly the N200 notes, available to enable customers to pay with cash should online transfers fail.

Meanwhile, a customer, Henry, who could not purchase all the items he budgeted for at the Wuse Market, said he made several transfers that declined.

He said he had been inundated with calls from two business operators for transactions he made at the weekend.

“I was debited for two of the transactions I made at the weekend but the business owners were not credited and they have been blowing my phone off with calls.

“Talking about lodging complaints at the bank, I had a similar experience earlier this month and I went to my bank but as I speak with you the money has not been reverted.

“Something urgent needs to be done by CBN about the situation because it is bringing distrust, losses and in some cases double payment for transactions that one had been debited for.

“It is a serious matter that deserves the needed attention from relevant authorities because I see no reason why anybody should lose his or her hard earned money to failed transactions,” he said.

The customer said the rise in failed transactions had equally crashed prices of goods in the market, particularly perishable goods.

Following the redesigning of N200, N500 and N1,000 notes by the CBN, January 31, was announced as the deadline for use of the old notes.

The January 31 deadline was, however, met with protests from Nigerians, forcing the apex bank to extend the deadline to February 10.

The extension was equally met with outrage, leading to President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that the old N200 note should be used alongside the redesigned one till April 10.