Yuletide: Reasons Long Queues ‘ll Persist AT ATM Points – Experts
By Gina Emmanuel
In the last couple of weeks, the economy was almost at a stand still as Nigerians experienced the mother of all fuel crisis, which culminated into the yuletide.
The fuel scarcity hits every sector of the economy like blocks of ice because ATMs were not dispensing cash, no network at ATMs, no fuel to power the generators and no electricity. And of course there were very long queues that were unending.
Christmas celebration was almost a bleak one for over four million households in the country compared with the previous years.
Although a statement made available to Gtechnews by the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA), which was signed by its Executive Secretary, Olufemi Adewole said that contrary to reports, “Depots are currently empty but if NNPC/PPMC could provide it with PMS, it is ready to do 24 hours loading to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians”.
And many financial institutions rely on fuel to power their ATMs. For instance, many Master and Visa cards were rejected at shopping malls, pharmacies and supermarkets.
A Facebook user, Mr Chidi Nnadi stated on his wall on Christmas Day, “I think this Christmas has crashed! No fuel, ATMs not dispensing cash, and PoS in supermarkets not accepting Master cards”.
Experts, who spoke to Gtechnews explained that it’s not as if the banks are distressed but several factors are responsible for the long queues.
According to a financial expert , Mr Segun Macaulay,the long queues at ATM points are as a result of increased transactions by customers of the banks.
“This is characterised by the wake in the economy as such queues were not witnessed when Nigeria was in recession. This does not mean the economy was in its peak but if anyone does not have money in the bank, he/she will not be there to withdraw”.
He however, disclosed that the queue was highly anticipated since last year because it bothers on issues created by ‘Banking the Unbanked’.
“It will only be resolved by moving many people to USSD, digital banking, example, some banks have kicked off their digital banking unit which is expected to use FINTECH. Aside that this is almost normal, it’s year end and usual time for servicing of servers, running of year-end reports, the banks are also going to be rounding up their projects too”.
Macaulay pointed out that some banks strategically do that to arrest issues being faced during festive periods;”Low cash availability from cash Management and CBN to attend to the high request for cash by customers.
Also commenting, President of Nigeria Internet Registration Association(NiRA), Rev. Sunday Afolayan says, “Network outages generally are possible from an engineering perspective, but a redundant network configuration, like having more than one data path (which means two or more providers or carriers) will more than often solve the problem of outage, but it certainly costs more. Certainly, high availability comes at a price”.
Macaulay further stated that there was no way any bank could be distressed as much as they still have above 25 billion with CBN.
“If such is about to happen, the CBN simply comes to their aid by injecting part of the funds back to such bank.I don’t think, it has to do with bank being distressed but with inefficiency of the ATM service. You know members of staff have to physically come and load the machine with cash. And a minimum of two key holders are involved, so how do you ensure that they are not out of town? Some banks have alert system that send SMS to key holders when cash is low but the problem is with our cash dependent society” . Adding that most PoS networks are not reliable because of lack of signal or service at merchants locations. However, he stressed that charging merchants are now of necessity.