By Bose Adebayo

Muyiwa Oni was a petty trader in Lagos who operated a savings account with a new generation bank in Lagos. He was just a stone’s throw from the bank one day when he received an alert on his mobile phone that N150,000 had been withdrawn from his account with an ATM card.

Muyiwa lives at Isolo while the withdrawal was made at Badagry. Ironically he does not possess an ATM card and so did not understand how anybody could withdraw  from his account via an ATM card. The fact is that the development has left him devastated and he has been running from pillar to post, trying to get the bank to fish out the culprit(s). His efforts, so far, have been in vain.

Before now, bank transactions usually entailed a lot of time-wasting processes and procedures with the result that many small scale industries endured a lot of suffering and losses. That was until former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government came up with the idea of e-banking.

This idea became the tool that opened up a lot of business activities for bank users. With this, many bank users began to enjoy  access to quick cash through the use of ATM card. The usual congestion always witnessed at most banks gradually disappeared as customers could walk to nearby places with their ATM cards to cash money  rather than joining the long queues in banks.

Although the e-banking innovation has brought relief to many bank users, the joy is being marred by recent fraudulent activities being recorded on daily basis through the use of ATM card. ATM machines are mostly found in strategic places like banks, eateries, supermarkets and  premises of corporate organisations which usually witness a large turn out of bank users who want access to quick cash.

The ATM machine will usually request for a pin number from the ATM user after the ATM card has been inserted into the machine. Although the pin numbers are supposed to be treated as the private property of the card user, their security is no longer foolproof.

“I boarded a bus from Obalende to Ojodu Berger one day when I lost my purse which contained my ATM card and my pin number which was written in my diary. That was around 9pm of that fateful day. I was dressing up to visit my bank to lodge a complaint when I received an alert telling me all the money in my account had been withdrawn in three different places through the use of ATM card,” a student Fola Akinremi said.

“The problems arising from ATM card transaction are many. I bank with Oceanic Bank and it took me a period of five months to collect my ATM card. One thing I have noticed with the ATM card is that it is flexible and could be easily damaged. In spite of the painstaking effort I made in terms of registeration, I can tell you that my bank has not given me my pin code. So what is the essence of using it?” asked Akin Olude.

“The machine sometimes carries statements like ‘access denied’ and ‘not guaranteed’ which make it difficult for us to easily cash money. I have since resorted to using my withdrawal slip because the ATM card does not encourage savings; one is always tempted to withdraw money all the time,” said a trader, Latifat Aregbe
“One thing about the card is that it sometimes hangs when you want to insert it into the machine and wastes one’s time in the process. I have stopped using it because of the frequent fraud now linked to it. I use a cheque book instead. Also, there is a black line at the back of the ATM card which renders it invalid once there’s a scratch on it,” said a site engineer, Femi Abiodun.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria has urged banks to treat all complaints relating to the use of ATM card within 72 hours. According to a statement signed by its  Head, Corporate Affairs, M. M Abdullahi: “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has noted with serious concern the growing complaints by the customers and the general public on ATM transactions and the inability of banks to resolve them within a reasonable time frame.

In order to sustain public confidence in the Nigerian Payment System, the CBN has directed that, henceforth, all complaints on card transactions should be treated and responded to within 72 hours of receipt of the complaints by banks. Furthermore, CBN has directed all banks to set up help desks for handling ATM and other card-related complaints. The banks are to publish names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses of the help desk staff to be contacted when the need arises. The CBN has equally set up a help desk for receiving public complaints on electronic card transactions with a view to fast tracking resolutions by the affected banks”.

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