By Babajide Komolafe
Bank customers had agonising experience conducting inter-bank transfers last week due to breakdown of the funds transfer platforms of some major banks. Financial Vanguard investigations revealed that the breakdown was prevalent among the top five banks.
Investigation also revealed that the problem started as incessant breakdown on Wednesday, became severe on Thursday, making it difficult for bank customers to transfer money from one bank to another or receive money transferred to them from other banks. Also, many bank customers could not use their debit cards to withdraw money from ATM.
On Friday, At the Akowonjo branch of one of the top five banks, with headquarters on the CMS Church axis of Marina on Lagos Island, a male customer who refused to mention his name, told Financial Vanguard he had been at the bank since it opened for business, waiting for his account to be credited with money transferred to his account the previous day.
Furthermore, the bank staff in charge of the funds transfer service announced to customers that came to conduct funds transfer to other banks that the service was not available.
He said that funds transferred to other banks the previous day were yet to be effected as at that morning, and those transferred from other banks were yet to be effected. Upon enquiries the bank staff said the problem was from Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS).
But an official of NIBSS, who spoke on condition of anonymity, dismissed the allegation, saying the problem is not from NIBSS.
The official said that NIBSS platform is running efficiently and have been processing funds transfer request from banks. The official told Financial Vanguard that the reality is that some banks are having problems with their electronic banking platforms and that may be why customers were having problems with funds transfer services.
Investigations further revealed that while the problem was prevalent among the tier-one banks, it was more severe in four of the banks.
For example, a male customer of one of the tier one banks, with headquarters on the Eko Hotel axis, had problem transferring money from his bank for more than one week. Also the male customer of another tier one bank, with headquarters on The Marina, travelled to the East for business without cash, hoping to make withdrawal through ATM when he gets to his destination.
However, upon getting to his destination, he could not withdraw through ATM, due to network breakdown. After several attempts, he had to appeal to the local branches to allow him do across the counter withdrawal so that he could have money to conduct the business he came for and also have money for his return journey.
Investigation also revealed that while in some of the banks the problem is limited to inter-bank funds transfer services, in some banks, the internet banking platform is also affected.
For example, in one of the tier one bank, which recently relocated its headquarters from one part of Victoria Island Lagos to another, both the funds transfer and internet banking platform of the banks were affected, causing severe pain to its customers.
As at the close of business on Friday, customers of the bank were seen hopping from the ATM of one bank to another, in a bid to withdraw money from their account through the ATM of other banks.
This frustrating experience was suffered by customers of most of the top five banks as they had difficulty withdrawing from the ATM of other banks, and had to go through the stress of visiting the nearest branch of their banks, to make cash withdrawal.
An official of one of the affected banks who spoke on condition of anonymity said the funds transfer platform of the bank was working saying he just used it to transfer money to the customer of another bank. He said that what the customers experience might be a temporary breakdown.