Nigeria began its Cash-less Project last year, with Lagos State as the pioneering the project.
The cashless project, initiated last year, is gaining acceptance, especially with support from the federal and state governments, the Central Bank of Nigeria has said.
Monica Adoghe of Shared Services, Central Bank of Nigeria, who spoke at the Card, ATM and Mobile Expo 2013 which begun in Lagos on Tuesday, said transactions have increased in the number of Point-of-Sale, PoS, deployed and actually being used, while giving an update on the cashless policy implementation.
She said partnership with major stakeholders is key for the success of the entire program, moving forward. She also said that legislation is important in strengthening the success of the electronic payment landscape.
“There are presently two bills before the national assembly; the Payment System Management Bill and the Financial System Ombudsman Bill,” she said, adding that all of these efforts would move the Cash-less policy to the expected next level.
Nigeria began its Cash-less Project last year, with Lagos State as the pilot state for the project as Cash-less Lagos. The policy is also expected to go live in five more states by July 1, 2013. However, the programme has not been without its own challenges as reports still reveal that there is low adoption of the alternatives to moving cash around.
The Managing Director, Fleet Masters Limited, Biodun Olusanya, said though the Cash-less Project has started, Nigerians are yet to see the full impact of its offers.
“The Cashless policy is one of the most effective ways to counter corruption and crime. Corruption is a killer disease and we have to join hands to fight the monster in every possible way and the cash-less policy is one way to stop it.
“The electronic payment is the greatest weapon. If we take physical cash out of circulation, we would have won the first battle,” he said, adding that, as a country, we need to legislate against certain practices that encourage the menace.
He urged the legislators to make it a criminal offence for anyone to be caught with more money than the Central Bank has authorised. “Sanity may begin to be restored if cash is curtailed,” he said.
Despite the success recorded so far, operators and regulators believe that there is still a lot of work to do so as to enhance greater success and faster adoption.
Goriola Oluyemi, from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Scheme (NIBSS), said a lot of work still has to be done in terms of empowering the operators and consumers in a convenient manner.
He said to enable the organisation move the project forward, it has to organise a detailed survey on the acceptance of the project last year.
“This was to feel the pulse of the merchants and consumers. From that, we could gather lot information on the areas that need to be improved or more work. There are still a lot to be done in terms of ensuring that transactions done on PoS terminals are successful,” he said.
He said some of the challenges facing the project include network connectivity issues with the PoS, technical malfunctioning, transaction charges, card reading difficulties.
Other challenges include fear of fraud/default, easy access to cash, banks refusal to deploy, customers insistence to use cash among others.
He said the organisation is seeking to improve communication infrastructure, minimise PoS problems, and reduce unsuccessful transactions among addressing other challenges.
“The Cashless project cannot grow beyond what it is without collaboration among all the arms concerned. It will continue to get better,” he said.
The Nigerian market is not one to easily break into, with cash-less alternative packages, such as mobile money, mobile banking, use of PoS, online banking and transactions, among others. Experts say expectations that Nigeria would be given into change as some other African countries, on alternatives to holding cash, have been doused.
Uwa Uzebu, Head, Mobile Payments, eTranzact Int’l Plc, said getting people to change their behaviour has not been that simple.
“It has not been simple. The Nigerian market is unique in its own way. The mobile banking/money project has not gained as much traction as everyone had hoped,” he said.
Mr. Uzebu said it has not been easy to change the behaviour or life style pattern of the people.
“Even though mobile money is still in its infancy, it represents a key element of our journey towards developing a payment system that is nationally utilised and intentionally recognised,” he said.
Many countries globally are exploring the vast potentials and advantages of convergence of technology which has given rise to the concept of shared services. It has been discovered that even in Africa, bankers have invested in technology platforms and systems that are far in excess of required capacity thereby should have been channelled to other viable projects.
“The focus today in the industry is therefore how to leverage on robust infrastructure by multiple banks while the savings therefore can be channelled to better quality service, value added service, efficient operation, risk and fraud manager, lower costs or even bottom line portability” Intermarc Nigeria Ltd, the firm organising the event, said.
The 13th edition of Card, ATM & Mobile is themed, “shared services: optimizing payment systems in Africa.” The objective, according to the firm, is to bring these issues to the front owners once again and expand consensus among active players in the industry.
The three day event ending tomorrow will see experts from all parts of the world discuss and proffer solutions on moving the nation’s e-payment industry and related markets forward. It also is a platform for merchants or dealers and vendors, buyers and user groups to meet one on one with their solution providers and interact.