New technologies continue to evolve in the banking sector on a daily basis. Financial institutions today have totally embraced digital banking to achieve better and sustainable results as well as increase speed and security of money transactions.
Banks and other financial institutions with focus on the future are taking advantage of digital banking, which is defining the sector’s success and reach. The reality of now demands that real-time transactions and banking capabilities should be made available whenever they are needed by customers.
The central bank of Nigeria in 2012 introduced the point of sale (POS) system to further drive home its cashless policy aimed at enhancing Nigeria’s payment system.
The initiative since its introduction has recorded tremendous success. Data from the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System in the third quarter of 2020 revealed that there are about 307,000 point of sale (POS) Machines, 30,000 Automated Teller Machines and more than 6,000 bank branches in the country.
According to an NBS report, only 167,000 of POS machines which has become acceptable means of transaction by cardholders are active.
However, a cross section of the operators who spoke to NATIONAL ECONOMY decry poor network and high cost of operation as major challenges to the POS transactions.
Atere Maryam has been doing point of sale business since August 2020, she told this writer that it’s a viable business but the risk involved is very high. “We have had to deal with complaints about customers bringing fake money and others will tell you that they didn’t see the money after transactions has been made while some complain that the charges are high. Different challenges every day!
“We address these challenges based on customers’ relations skills. We deploy our customers’ relations skill to calm them down and, in most cases, while talking to the customer, the credit alert comes in and the matter is resolved. We don’t release money back to customers. What if the money bounces back into his account and he conceals it? And for those who want to come into this business, I would advise that understanding the business first is key. Business shouldn’t be based on other peoples’ success in the same venture. What if you opened your own and didn’t get patronage?”
According to Maryam, “the percentage sharing with the bank is dependent on the kinds of operating machines being used. If it’s First Bank, they have their machine and sharing formulae is 50-50, while Monipoint requires operators to meet target, at least, N150,000 transactions per day. And if you fail to meet their target, they get their terminal back. This may affect your money, especially if you accumulate your funds transfer after transactions and you have to pass through protocols to get your money back, but if you transfer your money immediately after transactions, it won’t affect you”.
For Cynthia, she has been in this business for about two years. “It’s a good business but the challenges sometimes are with the network. Sometimes the network can be very bad and lead to cash transactions being trapped”. The advice we give to our customers is to go to the bank and resolve the problem” “some challenges are with the agents themselves, sometimes when you are going through your POS machines you discover that money has been deducted without operators’ knowledge.”
She believes ‘the point of sales machines has taken businesses from banks’ automated teller machines (ATM) because the agent and operators can be found everywhere that bank cannot penetrate but its good as it is helping to encourage cashless policy and financial inclusion policy of the federal government.”
Her position was corroborated by Timidiseghe Sele, a teacher and politician. He is a regular POS user. According to him, “the bank has its place that point of sales cannot take. POS is a functionality of the bank and it cannot take customers from banks because without the bank, there can’t be POS in the first place; ‘it’s just that the proximity of the POS to my place of residence makes it easy for me to carry out my transactions with ease, instead of going to the bank, which although not too far from me but the time it takes to queue at the bank can sometimes be discouraging. So, I prefer to use the point of sale for my transactions not minding the cost as long as it doesn’t delay me. I have been using POS for my transactions for more than a year; the only challenge I have encountered is that sometimes, you will be debited and not paid but the transaction is usually revised. However, you have to be patient. Or sometimes, you may need money urgently and there may not be network, I think banks, agents and operators should come together to harmonize ways to ensure there is regular network. Poor network can be frustrating sometimes.” He posited.
However, people’s experiences with point of sale (POS) transactions differ. Salisu Hamza, an entrepreneur (Shoe Dealer) based in Karu, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory shares his frustrations with NATIONAL ECONOMY. According to him, “I prefer to carry out all my transactions in the banking hall; I don’t do digital banking because it will expose my accounts and details to internet fraudsters, I don’t want the little money I’m using for my business to disappear, you know how difficult things are in this country now,” He stated.
For Abigail Tanko, a trader; the charges on transactions are what drove her away from using the point-of-sale machine (POS). He said “My first experience was when I wanted to transfer N50,000 and the POS operator asked me to pay N500, which I considered too exorbitant as a business person. Since then, I have decided to either pay cash to my customers or make a transfer using my banks or my mobile phone”.
Whichever way one looks at it, the introduction of point of sale (POS) by the apex bank in 2012 has simplified financial transactions. Today financial transactions can be done in almost all the villages in the country.
For Nigeria, improving financial inclusion, access to credit and getting transactions done at the lowest possible cost are challenges banks and other financial Institutions should address.