By Obinna Chima
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the commercial banks in the country said they have entered into discussions with service providers to create cloud Wi-Fi hotspot services so as to facilitate seamless electronic payment (e-payment) services in the country.
The decision is part of efforts to strengthen the on-going cashless policy which is aimed at reducing the dominance of cash in the system.
The Cloud Wi-Fi provides fast, reliable internet access via thousands of Cloud Wi-Fi hotspots and it is currently in operation in throughout the United Kingdom.
The CBN’s Head of Shared Services, Mr Chidi Umeano, said the initiative, would be driven largely by the commercial banks.
This, according to him, would enable customers access e-payment services in areas where the over 70,000 activated Point of Sale (PoS) terminals are clustered.
Specifically, by creating Wi-Fi hotspots in areas of concentration of PoS terminals, he said customers within range of the hotspot get automatic connectivity to the Internet for e-payment transactions.
“Bringing more cash into the formal financial system of the economy, through electronic payment platforms such as PoS terminals, would be useful in the overall economic planning and development of the nation. This means e-payments costs for customers are slashed by at least 30 per cent.
“This is ideal and less expensive because wireless internet access is more practical and flexible than each user getting separate connectivity in areas such as markets where there are clusters of PoS terminals. Reduction of payment charges and seamless integration of the un-banked into mainstream financial services through easy accessibility, affordability and reliability of transactions would drive financial inclusion in the country,” he explained.
Continuing, Umeano said that as all transactions would pass through the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) for settlement, adding that transparency would also be ensured.
While the telecommunications companies are investing in adequate infrastructure to boost connectivity services and have pledged to make the cash-less policy successful, Umeano disclosed that CBN was preparing a Proof of Concept to demonstrate the soundness of the Wi-Fi cloud idea.
He argued that the newly-created CBN consumer protection department would also ensure issues relating to transaction failure and customer complaints are promptly resolved.
Umeano further assured that the apex bank would not relent on creating awareness for the policy through increased collaboration so as to make the policy successful.