An increase in failed payment transactions in February caused a 4.83 per cent decrease in the value of cashless transactions to N37.67tn from the N39.58tn that was recorded in January 2023.
This came as the usage of epayment gateways recorded a 41.29 per cent month-on-month increase according to new data from Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System.
In February, cashless gateways were used 901.46 million times, in January, they were used 638 million times. Despite an increase in usage, the total value of cashless transactions fell in February, indicating an increase in the number of failed transactions.
The NIBSS has not updated its efficiency platform portal, which states the number of failed transitions and more, since 2020, making it hard to report the number of failed transactions.
As the major payment switch in the country, the NIBSS records cashless transactions from the Nigeria Instant Payment System and Point of Sales terminals. In February, the total NIP (instant payments) fell to N36.79tn from N38.772tn in January.
Despite the scarcity of naira witnessed in the month, the data from NIBSS revealed that the value of PoS transactions grew from N807.16bn in January to N883.45bn in February.
Usage of mobile transfers, which serve as the primary payment gateway for many Nigerians, soared by 69.87 per cent from 108.14 million times in January to 183.69 million times in February.
While usage grew drastically, transaction value only grew marginally by 7.88 per cent from N2.37tn in January to N2.56tn in February. This mirrored the experience of many Nigerians in the month, who had to grapple with multiple failed mobile transactions.
Since the Central Bank of Nigeria announced its naira redesign policy and withdrawal limits, in 2022, Nigerians have had to adopt electronic forms of transactions.
While announcing its policy, the apex bank said, “The maximum weekly limit for cash withdrawals across all channels by individuals and corporate organisations shall be N500,000 and N5m respectively.”
It added, “Customers should be encouraged to use alternative channels (Internet banking, mobile banking apps, USSD, cards/POS, eNaira, etc.) to conduct their banking transactions.”
However, the pressure of increased electronic payment has overwhelmed the banking sector, leaving many customers waiting and stranded.
Nigerians have been on Twitter, tagging banks, and complaining about failed transactions. Recently, the Vice President of the Nigerian Association of Small-Scale Industrialists, Seun Kuti-George, told The PUNCH, “I made a payment to someone one morning and they did not received the alert immediately.
“I had to leave the goods there until the next morning hoping that the fellow would get alert by then. If it was an emergency or a matter of life and death or a matter of contract that will be cancelled, I would have lost that.”
Many bankers have suggested that some of these failures have been because the NIBSS didn’t increase its capacity for the increase in the volume of transactions.
A First Bank banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the NIBSS had been witnessing more downtime because of the pressure of transactions.
According to the banker, this downtime has been affecting outflow and inflow of transfers. The banker stated that the payment switch has to increase its capacity in order for it to handle the pressure from the CBN’s policy.
A source in the payment industry, recently told The PUNCH that increases in mobile transfers are because of pressure and a lack of robust infrastructure.
The source said, ““I don’t think we are ready for this. I think the infrastructure is not robust enough to carry out the volume of transactions we intend to do.
“With that said, what I believe is over time, the infrastructure will catch up. This will probably happen because the CBN will put pressure on the banks and financial institutions to invest more.”
Some experts have also stated that a lot of failing transactions are a result of poor network infrastructure. The President of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, Dr Uju Ogunbunka, recently told The PUNCH, “You know the banks do not provide network services. Based on what we found out, there was a failure in the network system.”