Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How e-payment compliant is First Bank?

First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Plc could be the acclaimed first in banking penetration in the country but how Information and Communications Technology (ICT) compliant expressed by the bank to lots of its customers is unbecoming of an institution of such magnitude.

An instance of how doubtful FBN compliance to ICT was evident recently when a customer, Mr. Inyang Edet (real names withheld), stormed the banking floor of the refurbished Isolo branch to renew his Interswitch-enabled debit card, better described as electronic payment card, after expiration period was reached only to be reliably informed that it would take up to a month to get that fixed.

In confident, he was advised to go to the Oba Akran branch of the bank where the system for renewal has been installed and could even collect that in matter of hours. He was however unlucky as there were unexpected queue for those seeking to get attention for their various cards.

Eventually, it gets to his turn after waiting for over 45 minutes only to be referred back to the bank of domicile of the account at Isolo, where his details was once again taken and the attendant promised to get back to him through a Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) phone.

Approximated six months after, Mr. Inyang is yet to get any Short Messaging Service (SMS) or voice call from the Isolo branch of the bank, even after intermittent checks at the branch to know if the renewed card is ready for collection, all to no avail.

The unfortunate aspect of this attitude is that its not encouraging in a society like Nigeria where the usage of cash is still very high and the likes of Interswitch and some other concerned banks are joining forces to create awareness on how to bring in even the literate few to accept the reality of e-payment solutions available to them and reduce cash handling by banks, which runs into millions of Naira monthly.

Some media reports have it that about 63 bank robbery attacks had been reported this year, 68 policemen who provided escort for bullion vans lost their lives and N3 billion lost by banks to the bandits.

Therefore, it would be dangerous to encourage FBN customers, for instance, to use the bank for electronic dividend (e-dividend) payments, because even in a situation where such dividend payments are made, the likelihood that subscribers of the bank would not be notified of the movement in their accounts is highly possible.

Thus, banks like FBN need to brace up to the need of encouraging the populace to use electronic payment system available to them, because it would not only reduce armed robbery in the society, but make it a better place to live in as vote for handling cash which runs into millions monthly could be divested into better use.


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