Despite several complaints of unresolved failed electronic transactions that trailed the payment sub-sector in the first quarter of 2023, as a result of the Federal Government policy on naira redesign, volumes and values of electronic payment transactions, which slumped in February to N37.6 trillion has climbed to N49.4 trillion by March.
Though the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) was silent about unresolved transactions, industry sources noted that only 60 per cent of the ePayment transaction failures that occurred earlier in the year had been resolved, leaving 40 per cent of complaints unresolved.
Latest data released by the NIBSS showed that ePayments were up by over 23 per cent within one month, attributable to surge in the total value of e-payment transactions last month as well as sustained use of digital payment channels despite the waning cash scarcity.
Notwithstanding the rise in ePayment adoption, there are still several unresolved failed ePayment transactions that characterised the first quarter. These problems have continued to keep more Nigerians in the banking hall. These transactions, according to findings, run into millions of Naira.
While to some people, it could be as low as N2000; there are however, transactions that run into hundreds of thousands that are currently hanging, which have not been reversed.
According to The Guardian, in the last three weeks have revealed that 70 per cent of bank customers, who visit the banks, are there to resolve issues that border on failed ePayment transactions.
From Lagos to Kano, Ondo to Kebbi, Rivers to Sokoto states, the story has remained the same. Customers continued to besiege the banking halls with the hope that their failed ePayment transactions would be resolved. While many customers were told to come back, others lament that their transactions could not be traced, setting in rounds of frustrations on the banking public.
These transactions were not limited to within the banking cycle alone, customers were also stranded at super markets, hospitals, shopping malls, cinemas, among others, where payment transactions also failed.
This has brought untold frustrations, as a result of the rise in transaction failures, primarily via the unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), failed automated teller machine (ATM) terminals transactions, which are associated with intermittent slow service and sluggish Internet banking system, among others.
Analysis of the statistics showed that PoS transactions volume rose from 113.53 million in February to 177.93 million in March, with the value also rising from N883.4 billion to N1.152 trillion, representing a surge of about 30.41 per cent.
Further, the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) transactions increased by 20.52 per cent to N2.08 trillion in March from N1.73 trillion in February. Similarly, the report said that the value of NIBSS Instant Payment (NIP) transactions jumped by 31.37 per cent to N48.33 trillion in March from N36.79 trillion in the previous month.
The data also showed that cheque transactions volume increased to 426,926 in March from 333,952 in February with values put at N283.4 billion in March as against N238.4 billion in February.
In terms of transactions carried out through the mobile devices as captured by the system, the volume rose from 183,687.1 in February to 380,110.94 in March. The value rose from N2.56 trillion in February to N4.14 trillion a month after.
This is even as the debts on owed telecoms operators by banks on the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) continued to rise, which according to the Head of Operations, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators (ALTON), Gbolahan Awonuga, is now in excess of N100 billion with the debtors keeping mute.
Though these challenges have been with the banking public in the past few years, it however, compounded significantly in the last three months, owing to the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) forced policies of Naira redesign on the banking public.
Consequently, many of the unresolved and yet-to-be reversed transactions have breached the CBN rules on dispense errors, among others.
Recall that on June 1, 2020, in a circular, which took effect June 8, 2020, signed by former CBN Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, with the title: “CBN Revises Timelines for Dispense Errors, Refund Complaints,” noted that in its determination to further enhance service quality, particularly quick refunds when customers experience failed transactions, dispense errors or disputes, has revised timelines for reversals and/or resolution of refund complaints on electronic channels, with effect from June 8, 2020, as follows: Failed “On-Us” ATM transactions (when customers use their cards on their bank’s ATMs) shall be instantly reversed from the current timeline of three (3) days. Where instant reversal fails due to any technical issue or system glitch, the timeline for manual reversal shall not exceed 24 hours.
“Refunds for failed “Not-on-Us” ATM transactions (where customers use their cards on other banks’ ATMs) shall not exceed 48 hours from the current 3-5 days. Resolution of disputed/failed PoS or Web transactions shall be concluded within 72 hours from the current five (5) days. All banks are directed to resolve the backlog of all ATM, POS and Web customer refunds within two weeks starting June 8, 2020.”
Narrating her ordeal with the USSD platform, Raliat Oyadeyi, said: “I was to make an urgent transfer to my mum for medicals. I was debited but the recipient account was not credited for days. That was frustrating because I sent the balance to my account. The problem was not resolved until about four weeks later, after I had visited the banks multiple times. ”
To 40-year-old Segun Alabi, he was at Spar shopping mall to do some shopping ahead of the general elections. “After picking the goods, I decided to pay via the ATM, the network didn’t allow it. After waiting for about 45 minutes, I decided to transfer! The money, about N35, 000 left my account, but never got to the Spar account. When my payment couldn’t be confirmed, despite deduction, I had to return the goods.
“The money was reversed after about three weeks. I was lucky, though I had to be going to the bank twice a week before it was resolved. There are so many people who weren’t lucky…their transactions are still pending.”
A Chief Information Officer (CIO), who spoke anonymously, claimed that banks have resolved about 60 per cent of ePayment transaction failures that happened in February and March.
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