By Prince Osuagwu,
Despite claims by the Nigerian banks that they have invested over N100 billion in setting up and maintaining cutting-edge electronic channels over the past few years as part of an ongoing commitment to seamless customer experience and real-time digital financial transactions, Telecom operators still feel they probably do not have the capacity for full blown digital banking.
Unconfirmed reports say that after a recent Bankers Committee meeting, Bank CEOs stated that the frustrating online transactions and network failures in their member banks were not caused by internal but external glitches.
There has been a widespread complaint of massive online transaction failures in the banks since the enforcement of redesigned naira policy by the CBN.
However, the banks have denied it was their fault.
Following the denials bank customers have heaped the blame on the doorstep of the telecom operators.
However, in a swift response, the telcos said if the statement credited to the bank CEOs were true, they were speaking “tongue in cheek”.
Speaking through their umbrella body, the Association of Licensed Telecom Operators in Nigeria, ALTON, they said it was preposterous to think that all the operators will develop technical issues which will affect only bank transactions while other activities that do not have to do with banking are going on smoothly, including voice calls, data and multimedia services.
The group advised the banks to look inward and solve their problems and not to issue statements which would infer that their problems are caused by the telecom operators.
Head, Operations of the Association, Gbolahan Awonuga told Vanguard: “We have no problem from our end that could have affected bank transactions and for now, we do not even taken any action on the huge USSD debt they owe us. So, we have no technical issues that can affect banking operations. What I suspect is that, perhaps, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN’s recent decision to push cashless economy caught the banks unawares. Apparently, not being able to carry out physical cash transactions, the banks pushed their customers to the Unstructured Supplementary Services Data, USSD platform and the volume of transactions has outweighed the capacity they have.
“The only solution is for the banks to increase their USSD capacity and properly deploy right facilities for a full blown digital or online banking” he added
The Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB) had in statement on the Naira redesign, revealed that “from internet banking to mobile apps, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sales (PoS) merchants, mobile wallets, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) codes, agents and digital franchises among others; not less than 80 percent of Nigerians now enjoy one form of digital or cashless transaction or another, powered by investments of over N100 billion by Nigerian Banks”.
ACAMB said in the statement signed by its president, Rasheed Bolarinwa that these commitments by Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have seen Nigeria rising steadily and recognised as having arguably Africa’s most advanced digital financial services industry and one of the world’s top 10 real-time payment markets.
“It is a national pride and a proof of Nigerian Banks’ commitment to customer service that Nigeria is regarded as having Africa’s most digitized banking industry. Nigerian Banks remain committed to continuing investments in seamless and secured digital banking that excite customers to voluntarily use and rely on the various digital and alternate payment systems available,” ACAMB noted.
The group empathizes with the Nigerian public on the unintended hardships they face in the process of the ongoing rollout of re-designed naira notes and enhanced cashless policy. “There is no doubt that the unintended constraints in the withdrawal of old naira notes and circulation of new naira notes, alongside the national policy to enhance cashless transactions, have had unintended effects on the generality of the Nigerian populace”.
However ACAMB assured that the entire banking sector is working with the apex Bank and other stakeholders to urgently address constraints in the implementation and ensure that Nigerians suffer no untoward pains in the transition process and urged Nigerian banking public to exercise patience and not resort to any untoward behaviour against Bank staff or banking facilities. (Vanguard)