The Banking System and Failed Transactions: What is the Fate of UI students 

By Emmanuel Utibe

Just another casual afternoon, after the daily stress, Amos decided to head off to Shokem to grab some groceries with his friend. As he stood at the counter to pay, he whispered a little prayer as he swiped his card. Alas, the POS machine printed a receipt with a “transaction declined” inscription. When Amos opened the bank application, he had been debited for the declined transaction. He tools cold comfort in the hope that the transaction will be reversed. After days of waiting,  he started sending a series of emails and messages to the banks on Social Media. The possibility of a reversal looked grimmer as the days went by. 

Like Amos, many Nigerians live the reality of the financial crisis; the ripple effect of the failed monetary policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Financial institution highlighted a transition to a cashless economy as part of the reasons for the policy. However, it seemed to have overestimated the banking system and disregarded the skepticism of the average for digital transactions. The reality paints a different picture; there seems to be an increased frequency of failed transactions, and banking seems to be more difficult than ever. According to the NIBSS, there is a 41.29% month-on-month increase in the usage of e-payment gateways. In February alone, these gateways were used at 901.46 million, up from the 638 million in January. However, the value of the transactions also fell from the N39.58tn recorded in January to N37.67tn in February.

The cash failure epidemic has – in many contexts – affected the standard of living at the University of Ibadan. For Amaka, who lives in Agbowo, the policy was fine initially, but gradually got bad when the POS machines could not process transactions successfully, despite the debit alerts. From her account, reversal is not 100% guaranteed: sometimes the monies are reversed; at other times, they are not. 

Adeoluwa also echoed the same sentiments. In his account, Access bank online portals started getting better recently. However, at one point, it was terrible and frustrating for him to cope with. Adeoluwa lost 1300 in transmission once. Being a student, money was of considerable importance to him and his schedule as a medical student does not allow him the luxury of time to queue in the bank. 

In the case of Clement, he had issues with the Remita Gateway while trying to pay school fees for another person. Clement had to lodge multiple complaints, visit ItEMS and go through recovery processes before he got the issue resolved. This took him a whole week.

For Tofunmi, she was forced to forfeit what she had hoped to buy. The only comfort was the banks’ assurance that the money would get reversed within 5 working days. Precious, also speaks of his experiences. In one of his stories, he tried to pay his brother’s acceptance fee, and he initiated the same transaction close to 22 times with no result. He continued to explain how he had to call, lobby and mail the school for a second chance.  “I believe my banking experience ever since the whole cash issue went full scale has been horrendous even with digital banks. For a country that prides itself in an accessible banking system, dependability is really just not a thing for us”.  He lamented

In the sea of complaints, it would seem those who use fintech – like Kuda, Opay, and Vbank – are on an island of ease. Adeseum, a student entrepreneur, generally doesn’t think there are many issues with online transactions. According to him, network service providers constitute the major problem with digital transactions. As far as Adeseun was concerned, money reversal has been almost immediate. 

Ogochukwu also reiterates this: so far for her, online transactions have gone smoothly. Ogochukwu says avoids using Zenith bank to avoid failed transactions. Instead, she uses her Kuda app, and she has found it reliable most of the time. A trader consolidates; according to him, he appreciates Opay’s services, especially with their easy-to-use application. 

Some professionals in the banking sectors have absolved banks of the blame of failed transactions. According to these professionals, online transactions are more of a network issue than a problem with banking services. However, the NCC has refuted this loudly and clearly. According to the NCC, failed transactions are never the responsibility of Telecoms. 

Some other experts have noted that the current surge in failed transactions would be expected due to the surge in digital transactions. These experts posited that payment switches are currently overwhelmed and that there is no infrastructural capacity to cater to the surge yet. They further note that the situation is expected to improve when the CBN mounts pressure on the banks and switches to improve their current capacity to cater to the influx of transactions.

Recently, there has been a significantly impressive improvement in online payment platforms and cash flow. As a student, you may therefore find it relieving that you would less likely find yourself in Amos’ shoes.  You also have the opportunity to join the winning train and use one of the Fintechs reputed to work without a hitch. In the end, we would just hope that the CBN introduces new regulations to cushion the effect of cash scarcity and banking failure. We would also hope that the government or any other financial institution does not throw a new financial hurdle in our path.

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