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Banks move to improve on e-payment services

By Babajide Komolafe

Banks have stepped up efforts to address the increasing frustrating experiences of customers with electronic payment services.

Investigation revealed that in response to the daily complaints from customers vis-a-vis ATM frauds, more banks have fast-tracked from the their migration to the Verve card, which is a PIN and chip card.

Since automated teller machines (ATMs) became an integral infrastructure of the Nigerian banking system, convenience and safety have been assured for the teeming bank customers across the country.

This has also improved transaction bottlenecks as well as decongest banking halls.

Yet, the innovation has brought, in its wake, nightmares and anguish for some customers who have had some unsavoury experiences while trying to make withdrawal through their ATM cards.

The challenges faced by these customers vary from debiting not backed by release of cash, card trapping, and persistent malfunctioning.

More worrisome is the fact that some hackers target customers’ information to steal from their accounts. Through this method, some customers have lost a lot of money.

These challenges have prompted customers to call for urgent steps to check the persistent malfunctioning of the ATMs for seamless transactions.

For fear of their accounts being targeted by the hackers, some customers have refused to use their ATM cards in recent times.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive of Interswitch Nigeria Limited, Mr. Mitchel Elegbe, admitted in an interview that because of the rampant cases of ATM fraud, the ATM business had declined from the fast pace of growth it was associated with initially.

To this end, he said there are things that will be done to redress the situation.

The Interswitch boss expressed optimism that the migration from magnetic stripe card to chip cards will ensure safety as it is impossible for unauthorized people to have access to other people’s information.

“The fear about Verve chip and PIN card or any other card before now was the safety of the information on the card. Today, we have made that very difficult. We are going to make sure that one party cannot issue a card from the beginning to the end.

It has to be multiple parties and this is deliberate because, with the fraud we have experienced in the past, where when you are with your card and someone else will be using the same card somewhere, it will now be very difficult for one person to start and finish the card process.” he said.

At the last count, no fewer than 12 banks have migrated to chip card as a protective strategy to secure the funds of depositors in their custody.

Among the banks are Skye Bank, Access, Zenith, GT Bank, UBA.

In addition, two banks- Skye Bank and UBA, recently introduced cash deposit ATMs. The ATMs allow customers to deposit cheques, carry out foreign exchange transactions as well as withdraw cash.

This efforts to improve electronic payment services have resulted to awards and recognition for some of the banks.

At the e-payment awards organised by Interswitch which took place in Calabar, Skye Bank won  three different awards for transaction efficiency through ATMs; large rollout of ATM and for being the leading e-payment bank in the country.

Criteria used by the organizers of the awards included efficiency of the ATMs, volume of transaction done through the bank’s ATMs, the large number of people using the bank’s ATMs, among others.

In addition to having physical presence in its core markets, the bank built a leading e-platform  which has allowed it to become an industry leader in internally generated revenues as well as building a Tier 1 network of automated teller machines (ATMs ) and point of sales terminals.

It would be recalled that in  2006, the bank was adjudged by M2 Magazine (a specialized marketing communication publication) as having the “Most effective and efficient ATM in the banking industry”.

The magazine hinged its decision on the reliance of Skye Bank’s ATMs at various locations during the seven-day workers’ strike within the period.

The success of the bank’s ATM services during that critical period of non-provision of traditional services by banks is proof of Skye Bank’s leadership position in providing cutting-edge IT services to customers at all times.

And from Lagos State University (LASU) came another honour in the area of e-banking. CampusCard, an e-banking product from Skye Bank which won the “Fastest Growing e-Banking Product in Nigeria.” award from the Association of Electronics and Computer Engineering Students of the Lagos State University (LASU).

Also on Saturday August 11, 2007, at the African Telecom Award, Skye Bank won the best bank in e-banking award.
Intercontinental Bank also won some awards at the event. The bank went home with awards in functional ATMs and for the high traffic of fund users who make withdrawals through its ATM rollout.

On its part, Guaranty Trust Bank has also strengthened its ATM network by fortifying with the chip  and PIN technology and linked directly to the customers’ account.

They issued a new Mastercard which is naira denominated debit card which allows cardholders withdraw cash from all ATMs that have Mastercard logo or stickers on it and Mastercard point of sales terminals.

Apart from being recently recognized as the best ICT Support Bank of the year 2009 at the National ICT Merit Awards, GT Bank was also honoured as the Most Customer Focused Bank in Nigeria by KPMG in 2009


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