Holiday shopping: Banks customers’ billions trapped in failed e- transactions as retailers count costs
Failed several electronic transactions especially through mobile payments and automated Teller Machine (ATM) left many retailers disappointed and counting their losses during the Christmas and New Year weekends.
In different parts of the country, long queues were reported at ATM points across the country as people waited in line for cash disbursements to shop for the festive season which didn’t even happen for some people as “machines reportedly ran out of cash” and the alternative mobile payments failed.
The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) live point of sales data sheet monitored by BusinessDay showed a consistent rise on the number of failed transactions compared to the working days.
POS transactions which would have ameliorated the plights of the bank customers showed as at 25 December between 12-2 pm the number of failed transaction was put at 12 percent in 411,010 transaction volumes and consistently fluctuated to the end of the day.
By Wednesday when normal working activities resumed the failed transaction dropped to 6 percent within the same period.
This similar trend followed on Sunday 31 December as at 5.25pm the live PoS live data showed out of 361,534 volumes of transaction 34,000 failed representing 9.1 percent.
A banker who preferred not be named told BusinessDay that there is an arbitrary rule by central bank of Nigeria that failed electronic transaction, is reversed within 24 hours, however this means every failed transaction will have to wait till after the holiday periods before the reversal.
Seeking a way out of this hazard, many ATM users search out their own bank’s ATMs, no matter how far away these may be, because when cases of failed transactions occur on a customer’s bank ATM, they are usually resolved within 24 hours.
Other bank customers still conduct cross-bank ATM transactions but have resorted to collecting the intended sums in bits to avoid huge losses, in case of failed transactions.
This, however, leads to time wasting, long queues, greater wear on the ATM machines and higher risk of failed transactions as explained in the theory of probability and chance.
Speaking to BusinessDay a bank customer, Tunde Agbaje after a failed transaction in one of the new generation banks said the last attempt was his fourth time as he had preciously visited three other banks.
“It is very heart-breaking, I cannot prepare for the new year celebration, I am confused right now on what to do I had walked long distance to use my bank ATM after failed transaction using other banks in which i received alert on deduction with no cash.”
Along Bode Thomos road in Surulere area on New Year day where at least 10 major banks are located only two were dispensing cash as customers donned each side of the road, and were seen forming long queues.
According to NIBSS data from January to September 2017 electronic transactions using various channels hit N56.46 trillion compared to N56.88 trillion in 12 months of 2016 a steady growth and sign of how much Nigerians have embraced the Central Bank of Nigeria Cashless policy.
The growth would have been expected to maintain the upward trajectory during the fourth quarter when more expenses are expected on account of the festivities.
However, the disappointments from ATM points, would have limited the volumes of transactions which ought to have occurred.
A check at the various shopping malls by BusinessDay showed virtually all the customers doing their shopping paying with cash.
At FilmHouse in Surulere one of the attendants told BusinessDay after several failed transactions they had to insist on cash payment.
“We only accept cash because we have issues processing transaction using the PoS machines.”
At Yaba a fashion store was seen trying to convince a shopper on paying with cash rather than doing a POS transaction.
After long minutes of failed attempts at completing the transaction, the customer left the goods and walked away.
Laja Sorunke, Vice President, Information Security Society of Africa-Nigeria (ISSAN), earlier last year expressed to BusinessDay optimism on the future of electronic payments in meeting the cashless needs of Nigerians, especially POS machines.
However he said increased adoption of POS, is largely hinged on network reliability.
“At times they get errors like card declined or institution not available and the problems have mostly been linked to the major telecom network providers for these machines,” Sorunke said.
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