By Emma Okonji
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that it had deployed 60,003 Point of Sale (PoS) Terminals across the country as at April 29, 2012 as against 5,300,which was available as at June 2011.
The apex bank said it was determined to drive electronic payment systems in the country through its cash-lite economy initiative and as such it would continue to deploy more PoS across the country as part of its efforts at ensuring the success as well as the seamless operation of its cash-lite policy programme.
Head, Shared Services Office, CBN, Mr. Chidi Umeano, who dropped the hint in Lagos at a cash-lite event put together by the Lagos Chapter of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), said 14 mobile payment operators licensed in August 2011, recorded 35,971 transactions valued at N227.92 million in January 2012.
This, he said, was expected to grow geometrically as awareness increases, maintaining that all stakeholders had been strengthened in ensuring the success of the programme and that the CBN maintains an active engagement with all to ensure seamless transition to the much desired cash-lite society.
Chairman of the Lagos Chapter of NCS, Mr. Adeoye Rogba, who spoke on the security issues surrounding cash-lite initiative, called for a better security system that would guard against fraud that may arise through internal and external hacking.
Umeano stated that the CBN created the Nigerian Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) to carry out the following functions: educating and informing all banks and other stakeholders on various electronic fraud issues and trend, proactive sharing of fraud data/information amongst stakeholders to ensure prompt responses and limit fraud losses and formulating cohesive and effective fraud risk management strategies.
He noted that to ensure an error-free fraud management on the electronic payments landscape, Nigeria achieved changeover from magnetic stripe based payment tokens and channels to CHIP +PIN compliant channel and tokens in 2010 in a bid to stem fraud in electronic payments thereby recording over 90 percent drop in card related fraud incidences.
“The CBN instituted an industry Automated Teller Machine (ATM) Anti-fraud Committee, which has been recently up scaled to e-Payment Fraud Forum. This group ensures that our anti-fraud mechanism is kept abreast of new challenges for proactive response. Credit/ Settlement Risk have been reduced by shorter clearing cycle. The CBN now has a Payment System Policy and Oversight Office which is saddled with the effective monitoring and regulation of the payments system. We are also in the process of acquiring a Payments System Oversight and Anti-fraud System for online risk surveillance of the payments system,” he said.
Umeano noted that electronic payments carried more demand for identity management and that in some cases especially for mobile payments, the CBN was adopting light touch Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements to encourage adoption.
He said they were making good progress in conjunction with the Nigeria Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to implement in the first instance unique bank customers identifiers within the scope of the on-going National Identity Number project.
The CBN official however listed the following as challenges inhibiting the smooth operations of the cash-lite policy. They are: lack of understanding of cash policy amongst the banked and unbanked, lack of clarity in communicating content of policy, resistance due to prevailing cash culture, techno-fobia and infrastructure Lag.
Others are: distrust in banking system, lack of PoS Terminals at priority locations, custom challenges for clearing, exorbitant bank charges on e-payment products, need for standardised pricing to encourage usage and adoption and independent online-real-time monitoring of electronic channels uptime.
In addition, he noted that adoption of electronic payments was usually inhibited by poor dispute resolution and lax consumer protection regime. This, he stressed could be more debilitating to the objective of financial inclusion for low income earners
“This realisation made the CBN to step up actions towards ensuring that users of payment services get adequate attention from providers, and created the NeFF to formulate cohesive and effective fraud risk management strategies.
Additionally banks were made to publicise their complaint desk contacts as CBN leads the way in equally informing the public to contact our desks when there are deviations from the guidelines in the resolutions of their issues as promptly as stipulated. While we are in the process of establishing the Office of the Ombudsman for financial services, the CBN has created a Consumer Protection Division to strengthen users’ confidence and promote adoption,” he said.