The unending complaints of non-reversal of banks’ failed customer transactions have continued to raise serious concerns within Nigeria’s financial sector.
It was gathered that over 60 per cent of complaints from banks’ customers hover around failed transactions.
The development is causing pain, frustration and agony for many customers.
However, at a sensitization fair in Bauchi last week, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the regulator of the Country’s financial sector, said that commercial banks’ customers got N115 billion in refunds of failed transactions within ten years.
Recall that in June 2020, the CBN, in an effort to curb incessant complaints from banks’ customers, issued a revised timeline for the Dispense Errors refunds.
The CBN said that for ATM dispensing errors from customers’ banks, the reversal should be immediately or at most within 24 hours.
On the other hand, for transactions on other banks’ ATMs, the reversal should be at most 48 hours.
“Failed ‘On-Us’ ATM transactions (when customers use their cards on their bank’s ATMs) shall be instantly reversed from the current timeline of three (3) days.
“Where instant reversal fails due to any technical issue or system glitch, the timeline for manual reversal shall not exceed 24 hours; Refunds for failed “Not-on-Us” ATM transactions (where customers use their cards on other banks’ ATMs) shall not exceed 48 hours from the current 3-5 days.
“Resolution of disputed/failed PoS or Web transactions shall be concluded within 72 hours from the current five (5) days.
“All banks are directed to resolve the backlog of all ATM, POS and Web customer refunds within two weeks starting June 8, 2020″, CBN stated.
But, this is not the case for many banks’ customers. Some banks spend weeks or months before ratifying failed transaction complaints.
In fact, for some banks, it takes forever. The complaints are rampant.
For instance, Counselor Obareki said he was pained that he had not received a reversal on his bank’s failed transaction for over three months.
According to him, he initiated several complaints at the bank but to no avail.
“I have visited the bank countless times; unfortunately, the refund is yet to be made. Honestly, the CBN must do something urgent about the attitude of commercial banks. How can a bank refuse to reverse my N20,000 for over three months? It is pathetic,” he said.
He explained that he has been off and on a bank’s premises in Zaria on the issue, but nothing had been done for three months now.
“When I complained, I was told I would get a reversal in 48 hours, but this is three months now, yet nothing of such”, Basiru said.
Benjamin Okechukwu said in the first quarter of 2023, over N100,000 of his money from failed bank transactions had not been reversed.
“I have done all sorts of things to register my complaints, but it seems they fell on deaf ears.
“I recently called them out online and got an instant response, but the reversal is yet to be done. I think sanctions will curb this menace. It is excruciating that one cannot get back his hard-earned money due to failed bank transactions. The thing is frustrating,” he said.
Okechukwu’s plights like that of many other Nigerians cast aspersions on the credibility of the country’s financial sector.
Amid the imminent concerns by banks’ customers, when DAILY POST contacted Dr Isa Abdulmumin, the CBN Director of Corporate Communications to speak on the matter, he did not pick up nor reply a message as of the time of filing the report.
In the same vein, First Bank’s spokesperson, Kehinde Taiwo did not pick up his calls.
Earlier, reacting to service failure complaints in the banking and other sectors, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), saddled with the responsibility of consumer and customer protection, advised that companies must be more responsive to their customers.
He added that the Commission was committed to issuing sanctions to institutions that flout its regulation.
“FCCPC believes that the regulatory system is not the only way to be most responsive; the company should be responsive to the people so that they do not need to get to the regulator”, the Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera, stated in a Channels Television interview on Monday.
Speaking to DAILY POST on Monday, a former president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu said the CBN was guilty of the unfortunate menace of banks’ customers’ failed transactions.
According to him, the CBN should back their regulation with severe sanctions and fines so that banks would wake up and do the right thing.
“It is unfortunate that the situation is like this in Nigeria. The ATM and PoS machines they use abroad are the same as we use here in Nigeria, but when you have dispensal errors or other failed transactions, a 24-hour reversal is made.
“But in Nigeria, the situation is not the same. The CBN is culpable because they prefer to keep mum instead of penalising banks for wrongdoing.
“I know that only the Central Bank can solve this problem by imposing heavy sanctions, fines on banks found guilty”, he said.
On his part, an Accounting and Financial Development don at Lead City University, Ibadan, Prof Godwin Oyedokun said the CBN must tighten up its regulatory framework to save Nigerians the agony of failed bank transactions.
He noted that the apex bank must work to end financial institutions’ lackadaisical attitude toward customers’ complaints.
“When there is a service failure, regulation ensures that it is resolved within a stipulated time frame.
“What we witness in Nigeria is the lackadaisical attitude by most financial institutions; consequently, when there is a failed transaction, you will be frustrated to forget such money with the bank over time because the cost of visiting the bank for the complaints is more than the worth of the failed transaction.
“Failure of financial institutions to reverse failed transactions could be fraudulent in nature. The issue is alarming for me, coupled with the fuel subsidy removal, hike in fuel pump price, and other challenges facing common Nigerians.
“The CBN should continue to monitor the sector and tighten its regulations so that reported cases that are consummated, big sanctions should be meted out on the financial institution concerned. It is not the time to mess up with anybody’s resources”, he said.
Also, Idakolo Gbolade, Chief Executive Officer of SD & D Capital Management stressed that most banks chose to ignore customers’ complaints of failed transactions because of the amount involved.
As a way out, Gbolade stated that the apex bank should apply sanctions regarding interest payments to customers.
“The effort of the CBN in retrieving these failed transactions is commendable; however, the Central Bank needs to do more in mandating the deposit money banks to fulfil its obligations to their customers.
“Customers’ complaints on failed transactions form about 60 per cent of daily reports to the banks, but most times, the banks choose to ignore these complaints and sometimes attend to some of them after the regulatory threshold of resolution as mandated by the CBN.
“For example, if about 1000 people have failed a transaction of N100, that amounts to N100,000, which the banks deliberately ignore, or some customers fail to request for reversal due to the amount involved.
“The CBN must first mandate banks to work on their systems to immediately reverse failed transactions without the customer’s prompting.
“The apex bank should also apply sanctions in the way of interest payments to customers if these complaints are not reversed within the regulatory threshold to serve as a deterrent to banks who will like to recognize the funds as part of operating profit”, he said.