Reps charge CBN to make all Nigerian banks rebuild their electronic platforms

Godfrey Elimian
House of Reps ask CBN to direct banks to upgrade their IT infrastructure
House of Reps ask CBN to direct banks to upgrade their IT infrastructure

The House of Representatives has adopted a motion asking the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to direct commercial banks to overhaul their existing electronic banking platforms to provide Nigerians with a seamless online banking experience.

According to the motion moved by Honourable Sergius Ogun from Edo state, he explains that sections 88 (1) and (2) of the Nigerian constitution empower the National Assembly to conduct investigations into the activities of any authority executing or administering laws made by the Assembly, like the CBN.

According to him, Sections 1 and 2 of the CBN Act establishing the CBN mandates it not only to issue legal tendencies but also to promote an efficient and sound financial system. Hence, the CBN must ensure that infrastructures within its purview act according to that law.

The motion is coming at a time when Nigerians have been made to endure the sorry and terrible experience brought about by the implementation of the naira redesign policy and subsequent cash shortage. Nigerians have continuously lamented the inconsistencies and inefficiencies of banking platforms used to carry out transactions often made through their mobile apps, USSD platforms and debit cards.

“In the wake of the recent naira redesign and cash withdrawal limit policy of the CBN, there has been an increase in the use of online and electronic banking services to carry out monetary transactions across the country,” Ogun said.

The use of online or internet banking services by Nigerians in the past three months or thereabout has been characterised by varying degrees of hitches ranging from unsuccessful electronic bank transfers, Point of Sale (PoS) service failure and a host of others.

Honourable Sergius Ogun

“Disturbed that the ineffectiveness or difficulty in using internet banking services across the online banking platforms of most commercial banks in Nigeria has brought untold hardship, suffering and difficulties on Nigerians in the past three months.

Worried that if the CBN does nothing to address these difficulties or ineffectiveness, Nigerians will continue to suffer untold hardships and loss of monies to unsuccessful electronic bank transactions”, he added.

In his ruling, Ahmed Wase, deputy speaker of the house of representatives, mandated the committee on banking and currency to ensure compliance and provide a report back within four weeks to prompt further legislative actions.

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Read also: Supreme Court rules that old 500, 1000 Naira notes remain legal tender till Dec 31

Nigeria’s failing banking infrastructure and CBN’s role

The cash scarcity and the ensuing economic and social disruptions brought on by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) currency redesign policy have exposed the numerous inefficiencies of many financial institutions and their digital infrastructure.

Since January, when the Naira redesign policy was meted out to Nigerians and the directive to stop the issuance and collection of old notes, particularly the N500 and N1000 notes, Nigerians from every part of the country have been made to endure ugly experiences from banks including failed transactions like transfers and USSD payments.

The dire situation that many Nigerians find themselves in is obvious as many have flocked to banking halls and ATM stands, unable to access the money in their accounts.

The digital platforms that are supposed to ease Nigeria into a cashless society frequently fail to execute the basic services required of them. Some of the challenges include the inability to load the platform, unsuccessful and slow transfers, and failed USSD transactions.

Recent activities have indicated that these stakeholders were not prepared for the spike in online transactions, initially caused by the apex bank of Nigeria’s hurry to reduce the amount of cash in circulation.

Recently, Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, apologised to Nigerians for the rise in failed electronic banking transactions.

“I must apologise. Yes, online channels fail. But no doubt it is as a result of the deluge of online transactions that hit the banking industry. But it is being resolved.”

“On a daily basis, our payments system management department monitor the online payment platforms so as to make sure that when there is a downtime, they are quickly resolved so that transactions can go on smoothly.,” the CBN governor said.

With this new directive by the lower chamber of the National Assembly, it is yet to be seen how the CBN would compel banks to revamp their IT infrastructure, which last saw an upgrade during the last banking crisis in 2008.

Nigerians would continually be hopeful even as they have begun to switch to useful and efficient alternatives brought about by the fintech industry that has become the jewel of Africa.

Read also: eNaira sees a 63% spike in transactions amid Naira scarcity, yet most Nigerians remain indifferent

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