NIBSS, Others Move to Tackle e-Payment Failures


Obinna Chima

Following the deluge of dispense errors and non-reversal of failed transactions at point of sale (PoS) terminals and some other electronic banking channels, the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), the Central Bank of Nigeria and commercial banks yesterday said they are assiduously working towards addressing the challenges.

They also apologised to all bank customers and reassured their commitment towards ensuring an efficient payment system.

Speaking during a media briefing in Lagos, at the end of a stakeholders’ meeting, the acting Managing Director, NIBSS, Mr. Niyi Ajao, said his organisation was aware of the poor transaction network going on in the country as well as the pains it had caused to e-payment users.

He said the meeting by the stakeholders was to improve on poor network quality for e-payment transactions by extending the time it takes to complete a transaction, especially, PoS and restore confidence in the e-payment system.

He listed the areas the meeting focused on to include time-out, reversals, capacity enhancement and monitoring.

Timeout is the total turn-around-time (TAT) for a PoS transaction cycle, from the time it is received from a PoS to the time a response is sent back to the terminal.

According to Ajao, the TAT had been configured at 15 seconds in agreement with banks and processors. However, delayed responses from Issuers after this timeout in recent times could cause authorised debits not to return to the terminal before the set TAT.

Speaking on the remedial steps agreed at the meeting, he said the stakeholders agreed that there should be adjustment of timeout to 20 seconds from 15 seconds on March 14, 2019. This, he said had been implemented already.

Others include, “adjustment of timeout to 45 seconds from 20 seconds on March 19, 2019; to be done today.

“Disable any Issuer with delayed responses beyond 45 seconds with immediate effect to isolate such a bank. This process is on-going,” Ajao said.

In terms of reversal, the remedial steps agreed at the meeting included fixing of platform application issues; network remediation carried out with concerned processor; implementation of a secondary process whereby all reversals for any business day are re-transmitted between 10pm and 12 mid-night to return credit back to cardholders through their banks/Processors. Effective date is March 22, 2019 and the implementation of real-time reversal by PoS terminals directly. “This would require that banks are available to receive such online real-time. This would take effect by or before end of April 2019,” he explained.

Furthermore, he said, “We have advised banks the minimum system requirements for their front-end systems in order for them also to cope with higher volumes

“In effect, all service providers are expected to scale up on infrastructure because the strength of the ecosystem will always be equal to the weakest one

“The CBN has also waded in on the infrastructure matter with active engagements of stakeholders and timelines to achieve same.”

Ajao said NIBSS facilitated 285 e-payment transactions in 2018, which was expected to rise further this year.

He said there had been several meetings between the CBN, banks and payment service providers on the need to improve transaction quality and provide seamless e-payment services to customers.

Ajao said henceforth, all service providers are expected to scale up on infrastructure because the strength of the ecosystem will always be equal to the weakest one.