Banks urged to strengthen e-payment channels as crises slow transactions
Nigerians still struggle with *966#; *894#; *737#; #*919#; *711# USSD codes
With more Nigerians using electronic payment channels as a result of acute shortages in cash circulation in the economy, financial institutions have been advised to strengthen their e-payment platforms.
This advice was made at the weekend by PPC Limited, Nigeria’s lCT and Infrastructure Development Company. While speaking on the impact of redesigned naira notes on banking infrastructure, the Director of Operations and Head of the ICT Division at PPC, Dr Patrick Ede, observed that the inadequacy of the e-payment channels to withstand the deluge of transactions orchestrated by the surge in the use of such channels for payment is causing many failed and unsuccessful transactions.
He added that the congestion and resultant system downtime are negatively affecting the commercial activities of merchants as transactions have become slow, delayed and sometimes incomplete due to the fact that the country’s banks were never ready for the level of surge they are currently experiencing.
The ICT expert called on banks to implement measures that would ensure all electronic payment channels process simultaneously, quickly and efficiently.
Ede said, “the rising demand on the digital channels of banks calls for increased investment in reliable payment systems that speedily deliver on transactions.
“To alleviate the congestion on payment channels, banks should carry out an audit of payment channels to identify gaps and loopholes in the system with a view to phased resolution. This first step will ensure that banks raise the standards of experiences they provide to customers and ensure that customers remain at the centre of their business models.”
He urged banks to consider upgrading their server, network and hardware infrastructure to handle peak-time operations, adding that this move will ensure that all electronic payment channels can process transactions swiftly and efficiently.
Ede advised the financial institutions to enhance their security protocols to ensure that all electronic payment channels are secure, protect customer data and prevent fraud.
According to him, there may also be a need for financial institutions to expand their existing payment channels to accommodate more transactions. Ede said PPC’s expertise in the deployment of high-end ICT and engineering infrastructure has assisted several organisations in the public and private sectors to create secure, robust and scalable systems suitable for a broad range of commercial uses.
Indeed, it is not yet uhuru for Nigerians, especially with the use of the Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platforms in the last three weeks.
USSD banking is an SMS-based mobile banking service, where a USSD short code is used to access financial services like transfers, bill payments, and airtime recharges, among others.
Many bank customers switched to the USSD platforms to carry out financial transactions due to their inability to get cash over the counter in the banking halls, coupled with the fact that the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) refused to dispense cash and the Point of Sales (PoS) terminals are now a no-go area because of the exorbitant service charge by the merchants.
It was gathered that some USSD transactions that appeared to have gone through on these platforms, which could take as much as 30 minutes to deliver, were later discovered to have failed.
USSD codes Nigerians struggle with include *966#; *894#; *737#; #*919#; *711#, among others. So many failed transactions have been reported on these platforms as cash scarcity remains.