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Righting flaws of a novel cash facility in Nigeria

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ATMIN recent times, it has become clearer that intellectual capital and technology now rule the world. Almost all businesses, especially in advanced economies have become aware that they must adapt to the changing technology or be left behind.

Most organisations are now making frantic efforts to keep track of technological changes and implement them in their competitive strategies. The Automated Teller Machine (ATM) was introduced into Nigerian market in 1989.

Precisely, the very first of the facility was installed by National Cash Registers (NCR) for the defunct societie Generale Bank.      Automated Teller Machine is located in banks and customers’ convenience areas.

This allows customers to drive up and complete financial transaction without much ado. Automated teller machine are inter- connected to allow anyone with a debit card or credit card to have access anywhere in the world because each station is connected to an inter-bank network.

In Nigeria, customers have a sigh of relief when the automated teller machine was introduced as an instrument to aid banking operation. The introduction of the ATM by financial institutions changed the face of banking in the country albeit with some teething challenges.

The automated teller machine contributes immensely to the marketing of banking services. With the aid of information technology, funds can be moved from one account to another at the press of button, essential information relating to a transaction could be made available thousands of miles away within a minute.

The banking industry, no doubt, has witnessed advancement in technology just like any other sector; the use of automated teller machines is one of these as it affects banking operations entirely with the adoption of self-service technology by the banks.

ATMs offer convenience to customers and provide banking services beyond the traditional service period. It therefore, encourages a cashless society.

ATMs allowed financial institutions to provide their customers with convenient way of carrying out varying transactions which included withdrawal of funds, fund transfer, check account balance, purchase of airtime.

The interbank networks have brought together ATMs of several banks so that consumers could gain access to any of the participating bank’s dispensing instrument. ATMs are expected to operate 24 hours daily, but most banks, install the machines permanently within their premises to check thief.

As a result of the fear of banks to install their machines within the city, the few available ones have been hosting large number of customers from dawn to dusk. The aim of speedy cash disposal is defeated.

Irrespective of the long hours spent in queues, some customers end up not being able to access the machines. Such long queues have given birth to further problems like fighting, manoeuvring and lack of privacy in the use of the machine.

In addition, the machine has been noted for insufficiency of funds. Most times, the money put in the machine by the management is not usually enough for the large number of customers.

There are other challenges like power outages, telecoms breakdown and technical glitches. With regards to power, most machines run on generators, UPS and inverters to back up electricity in some extreme cases.

This is one of the problems facing ATMs application in the West Africa sub-region, especially in Nigeria. At times, it is either the machine does not have payment slips to print out details of transactions.

There are cases of ATM debiting the account of a customer without dispensing the sum; it takes weeks or month before it is rectified. There are times when the machine  seizes customer’s cards outright while at other times it will keep customers waiting longer than expected before their cards are ejected.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has issued a new directive that once your card is seized by the machine, you cannot get it back except the card belongs to the bank.

According to the directive, the trapped cards will be destroyed. This has made a lot of bank customers incure unnecessary and unforeseen expenses since they have to apply and pay for new cards, thereby frustrating the owner.  This has resulted to some of the customers calling the ATM “Automated Thieving Machine”.

Notwithstanding, ATM technology has done a lot to improve bank services, as long as queue in all banks before the introduction of ATM has disappeared. This has led to almost real time bank services.

The veritable advice to concerned regulators and authorities will be that efforts must be sustained to right the flaws so that Nigerians and Africans in general could get optimal results from this novel instrument that has made banking a relish.


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