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Business News of Sunday, 5 March 2023


Hassles of mobile money transfers

File photo to illustrate the story File photo to illustrate the story

Exactly on the 22nd of February, on a Wednesday, Mrs Chioma Ikenegbu set out for a popular food and grocery shop at Ipodo Ikeja in order to stock up her house in anticipation of civil unrest in case the presidential election of 25th last month go awry and turn violent.

Due to the cash crunch that has been the case in the country since the past one month, she opted to use her bank cards for the payment. After selecting the items she needed, she proceeded to use her bank card to pay through the Point Of Sale [POS] machine. To her disappointment the transaction was declined. She then used her phone and made a monetary transfer of N170,000.00 to the retailers’ GTB account.

Less than one minute after making the transfer, she got a debit alert on her phone. She then proceeded to carry her shopping bags to her car but the shop owner stopped her, saying that he had not received a credit alert. An argument ensured and the shop owner insisted that Mrs. Ikenegbu will not leave with those things she had paid for until he receives a credit alert.

This transpired about 11am and by 2pm the shop owner had not received the credit alert. Mrs. Ikenegbu tired of waiting, her voice hoarse from arguing and appealing that she be allowed to leave with her shopping as she has been debited and convinced that the shop owner will definitely be credited had to go home without her shopping. She could not carry the shopping she had paid for till the next day when the shop owner received the alert.

Unlike Chioma, Mrs. Obum was debited with N90,000 but ‘auto reversed’ printed on the POS receipt. She had gone for food and grocery shopping. At the end she proceeded to make payment with her bank card on the 23rd of last month.

Unfortunately she was debited and the transaction still failed but she must buy food stuff for the house so she brought out another debit card and transferred it to the retailer’s account. This time the transaction went through but just like the case above, though she was debited, the creditor did not receive an alert and she was prevented from going away with her shopping.

However, she has somebody in the vicinity that knows her very well and has a robust relationship with the retailer. She had to get him to stand as surety for her before she could carry her shopping but as at the time of going to press, the N90,000 that was debited which She received an auto reversed ticket for is yet to be revised into her account.

In the case of Emmanuel Ukpo, he had to call the intervention of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission [FCCPC] before he finally got his money. To avoid making transfers in the market as he was going shopping, he decided to go to a POS operator, pay their exorbitant charges and have physical cash. Fortunately they agreed to having N30,000 but charged N5,000 for that. He received a debit alert of N35,000 from his bank. The operator handed him N30,000. He confirmed the money was complete and turned to leave the shop but they argued he will not leave till they receive a credit alert. Their argument was that, sometimes the money may be reversed back to the customers’ account so they wanted to make sure the N35,000 had entered into their account, the proof for that is the credit alert they receive on their phone.

Emmanuel was in a hurry as he was travelling. His appeals fell on deaf ears. Being aware of the FCCPC, he put a call to them, their intervention eventually made the POS operator release Emmanuel after he signed an agreement with them.

The stories are endless. Since the recent Naira redesign policy in Nigeria which has led to the scarcity of physical cash, most Nigerians have had to rely heavily on internet transfers and POS transactions.

However, this has led to an increased rate of failed transactions, which typically involve users getting debited without the receiver getting paid. And due to network issues, several banks have been really slow to reverse failed transactions or failed to rectify the situation altogether.

However, what can one do when there is no cash? We will continue with internet transactions till things get back to normal but there are measures we can adopt.

When making payments through internet banking, USSD or other mobile transfer channels, most people tend to proceed with their transaction without first making sure the channel is working.

But in crucial times such as these where network issues from banks and ISPs are rampant, you may want to be extra careful.

Before sending a payment, test the waters first to confirm that both your mobile network and banking system are in sync and working well to allow a transaction to go through. You can do this by sending a small amount of money first to see if it will deliver, then send the main payment if the trial version works.

Let us assume you want to send a sum of ¦ 100,000 to Mr. A for a commodity or service. However, you are skeptical of the network stability and do not want such an amount hanging in the air due to failed transactions. You can first try sending as little as ¦ 50. If that goes through, there is a very high likelihood that your transfer of ¦ 100,000 will not fail.

But if the transfer of the ¦ 50 fails, then you can take cue to hold on for a while. In a case where you are debited from the ¦ 50, it is something you can easily forgo compared to having ¦ 100,000 stuck in this period where banking systems are epileptic and banking halls are barely accessible.

Most Nigerians have had to turn to POS operators for cash withdrawals as most ATMs are either not dispensing or crowded by people. Also, several shops and retailers are heavily reliant on it to get paid for their goods and services.

However, the system is also susceptible to failed transactions. And you may receive a debit alert despite your payment not going through or the system declining your card. So how do you save yourself from the psychological stress of having a bulk of your money hanging?

The solution is similar to the one for mobile transfers. Simply speak to the POS agent or seller to try a small amount first. If it goes through, they can go ahead to carry out the main transaction.

For example, say you want to withdraw ¦ 5000 via POS agents or you are about to buy something worth ¦ 5000 from a seller. If you are wary of the possibility of a failed transaction, tell the agent or vendor to kindly enter between ¦ 50-¦ 100 first. If that goes through, that signals that your main transaction has a high chance of being successful. Otherwise, you can stall making the original transaction.

Please be very careful in this season. Do not unnecessarily provide your ATM PIN or banking details such as BVN and the likes to anyone. In case of any failed POS transaction, make sure you get a receipt. Also, in your quest for cash, be very vigilant so you do not receive fake notes.

Let us hope that very soon, people will have unhindered access to their hard earned money and be able to have the option of paying for goods with cash or with bank cards.