Opinion

X-raying tech hitches in the banking sector

The last time I checked, the banking sector was conspicuously characterized by myriad of tech hitches cum challenges, hence the need for a compelling measure. It’s not anymore news that the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) has overtime posed a colossal challenge to its teeming users. The conundrum is liable to constitute an untold financial crisis in Nigeria at large.

A lot really needs to be done regarding the use of the ATMs in the country. The country requires more accurate and efficient technical know-how in the banking industry as regards ATM operations. Technical irregularities or hitches such as out of service, temporarily unable to dispense cash, issuer or switch inoperative, and unreasonable seizing/ withholding of transaction cards, among others, which are often encountered while using the machine, must be addressed headlong. The ridiculous technical anomalies to include debiting an account without any withdrawal made by the owner, is the most devastating aspect of the ongoing ATM quagmire in Nigeria, among other developing nations. Mobile and online transactions also result in this kind of anomaly.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which serves as the mother bank of all commercial banks in the country, is expected to intervene especially at this period we are suffering from an enormous economic crisis. The teeming bank account owners have suffered greatly, thus are in need of the onward intervention of the apex bank towards ensuring the country’s dream of seeing an arena filled with thorough cashless banking is duly actualized in the nearest future. Among all, the routine of loading torn or damaged naira notes in the ATM machines must be ended by the CBN via its policies. How could notes that are meant to be burnt or replaced be loaded in the machine, thereby creating avenue for frequent circulation of torn naira notes? Does it imply that the country’s Mint and Printing section is incapacitated? Hence, the apex needs to initiate a viable policy to act upon the uncalled practice. Also, such a measure must be checkmated by the Mother Bank to ensure adequate implementation.

Furthermore, the various branches that are currently making use of only one ATM must as a matter of urgency install at least two or more ones in order to decongest the banking premises with a view to curtailing the chances of being invaded or attacked by armed robbers. The various banks should also from time to time update the software used for the said machines.

It is quite appalling to realize that most of them are still making use of outdated or trivial softwares. Against this backdrop, every bank is expected to see its ICT unit as one of the most, if not the most, needed units in the sector so its viability would be sustained at all cost. Such step would enable the bank to at all times ensure that employing or engaging competent and reliable ICT professionals, either as full staff or consultants, as the case may be, is not compromised.

It is pertinent to note that most of these challenges are usually occasioned by ignorance on the part of the bearers of the ATM cards. Most users of the card in question are yet to acknowledge that the card is not meant to be kept close to electronic devices or any device that possesses a magnetic field such as a radio set, television, handset, computers, laptop, home theatre, speakers, VCD/DVD, and what have you, especially when they are on or in use. Such practice is liable to permanently stop the activeness of the affected card. Similarly, the users are equal-ly meant to comprehend that the card is meant to be safeguarded from any iota of scratch particularly on its silver-coated part. More so, if any part of the card bends, the bearer or owner may not be able to assess his/her account via the ATM; and if they eventually succeeded in doing so, he might not be able to retrieve the card from the machine after the transaction.

To this end, the banks’ Customer Service units are required to duly orientate their clients the moment they pick the cards as well as ensure that they are regularly sensitized in this regard. They ought to be meant to understand that the debit/credit cards are to be thoroughly pampered in order to keep them away from any possible harm.

The ICT department of each of the banks ought to invariably take this coaching aspect as a priority. Hence, in addition, an orientation unit can be inculcated in the aforementioned unit. The CBN alongside other concerned groups like the civil society really needs to take an urgent and severe step towards ending the various lingering irregularities faced or practised by the various commercial banks in regard to the use of the ATM coupled with its cards. We as a people must take into cognizance that the tech menace is likely to cost us an unavoidable setback if the needful isn’t considered and done. Hence, the compelling need to swing into action. Think about it!

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