The festive season may have come and gone, but bank customers in Nigeria are clearly yet to get over the anger and anxiety experienced during the period while standing in long Automated Teller Machine (ATM) queues.
New Telegraph’s findings in the days leading to and during the festive season showed that in cities such as Lagos, which has a significant deployment of ATMs, a lot of the machines were not dispensing cash, either due to network failure or shortage of money, thus resulting in bank customers waiting endless hours at the relatively few ATMs that were dispensing cash during the period.
While some industry sources attributed the frustrating ATM queues to the cash shortage that the banking industry experiences in festive periods when there is usually a spike in cash demand, this newspaper gathered that the situation could be avoided if more Nigerians embrace PoS over cash payment.
A top official of a new generation bank, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that although the long ATM queues noticed during the Christmas and New Year season was partly due to the huge demand for cash during the period, which, according to him, was occasioned by the failure of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to print adequate volume of cash, the main cause of the problem is Nigerians’ general preference for cash transactions over PoS.
He said: “During holidays, it is normal that the demand for cash rises. But during this period, CBN does not print enough cash thereby leading to cash shortages in the system. It is even worse up-country where banks’ bullion vans have to travel long distances to be able to get cash from CBN. However, the main reason for the long queues at ATMs is that most Nigerians are yet to fully embrace PoS. They still prefer to pay and receive cash for transactions that they could easily have used their cards to do at a PoS terminal.
“For instance, if you carry out a survey of operators in the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as well as the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sub-sector, you will find that only a negligible percentage use PoS,” he stated.
Corroborating him, the Head of Operations at a Tier 2 bank branch in Lagos, who did not want to be named, revealed that from her interactions with customers, a lot of them said that they prefer using ATMs over PoS because of the shorter period it takes banks to resolve issues of dispense error for the former compared with the latter.
According to her: “Despite the CBN’s cashless policy, most Nigerians still prefer carrying cash about instead of using PoS and that is the reason why you see long queues at ATMs. Also, most customers feel that the length of time it takes to resolve issues such as when a customer’s account is debited for a payment that the intended beneficiary never receives is far too long for PoS transactions compared with ATMs’. It takes about a month to resolve this kind of error when payment is made at a PoS terminal, whereas it can be corrected within a week if it is an ATM transaction.”
Interestingly, at the PoS innovation summit held in Lagos last October, merchants making use of PoS terminals for transactions at their locations identified factors hindering the use of the device as a means of payment.
These factors include lack of credit backing for PoS transactions by banks; +two days settlement arrangement; placing of burden on customer for technology failure among others.
Specifically, President, Association of Mobile Money Agents in Nigeria, Sarafadeen Fasasi, said that the practice of +two days settlement arrangement for transaction on the PoS is a major challenge in the business of using the device as a means of payment.
“By policy, settlement should be done in one day of the payment, but today that is not obtainable in practice as what we get is +two days. This means that if a merchant gets payment through PoS device today by 10am, he will not get value in his account till 6pm tomorrow, which means he has lost two days of business. This settlement system slows down business for us merchants as well as does not optimize the benefits of PoS system,” he said.
Also, Managing director, ARTEE industries (SPAR), Mr. Prakash Keswani, stated that the system of transferring burden of technological failure in the process of payment through PoS on the customer is worrisome instead of the provider of the device.
“We often face with a situation where transactions did not go through and customers account debited and not reversed immediately expecting the customer to go to their bank and fill one form or the other. In some cases customers insist on going with the goods they purchase,” he explained.
However, despite these challenges, latest data from the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) shows that the country has recorded a significant increase in the value of transactions via PoS channels.
According to the NIBSS, the value of PoS transactions increased by 65per cent to hit N651.37 billion between January and November 2016, compared to N395.05 billion recorded in the same period in 2015.
The figures also show that November 2016 recorded the highest value of transactions with N81.15 billion worth of transactions carried out in that month alone. In the same month in 2015, only N40.25 billion worth of transactions were recorded.
Significantly, the figures reveal that that 51 per cent of volume of transactions in 2016 occurred in Lagos with 32.7million, followed by Abuja with 6.8million and Port Harcourt 5.1million.
Declining Interest in STEM Education in Nigeria: The Need for Urgent Intervention
By 2030, more than half of the jobs in the world will be STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – based. According to research from Brookings – a Washington based research institution – more STEM-oriented metropolitan economies perform strongly on a wide range of economic indicators, from innovation to employment.
But how prepared is Nigeria for this reality? Are students in Nigerian schools equipped to take advantage of this opportunity?
Technology companies are springing up, the number of jobs requiring STEM based skills is on the increase, but it is sad that Nigerian students are poorly equipped to fill this huge gap. The challenges range from poverty, poor school funding and waning interest from students, to poorly trained teachers, inadequate learning aids, incessant strikes, among others.
Consequently, traditional education in Nigeria is failing, with STEM education being the worst hit. Students are largely uninspired to pursue their passion in STEM related fields, thereby leaving them unprepared for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century world.
In a quest to change this negative trend, integrated digital payment and commerce company, Interswitch is launching an initiative conceived and developed to promote STEM education in Nigeria by providing the right support and reward for students and other stakeholders.
The initiative, called Interswitch SPAK, is poised to support young Nigerians who are interested in acquiring the problem-solving skills that come with a solid STEM education, in order to fix the challenges facing Nigeria in various sectors of the economy. This initiative would ultimately position young Nigerian professionals to compete favourably with their colleagues globally.
To kickstart the initiative, a national science competition is set to begin in April 2018. The competition will feature students from all states of the federation competing in core STEM subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics.
The top two students in the competition will be awarded a five-year scholarship, a Mac laptop and gold trophy; and a 3-year scholarship, a laptop and a silver trophy respectively. While the third position will receive a-two-year scholarship, a laptop, and a bronze trophy.
This is indeed a laudable initiative which should increase student interest and enrolment in STEM subjects, among other benefits.
Owing to existing incompetence levels, a large number of jobs in Nigeria’s employment ecosystem have been outsourced to expatriates. Initiatives like SPAK will on the long run increase competitiveness and improve employment levels for Nigerians. And as a matter of cause-and-effect, improved STEM skills at the grass roots will equal greater employment, lower rate of job losses, higher exports and a direct positive impact on Nigeria’s GDP.
While STEM education may have been plagued by various challenges in the past, Interswitch SPAK is one great step towards ameliorating the situation, and it deserves the support and commendation of every stakeholder. One also hopes that other successful Nigerian tech companies will be inspired by this to create similar opportunities for the nation’s education system.
Sokoto introduces tractor hire scheme
Sokoto state government said it will start a tractor hire scheme to boost mechanization in farms and assist farmers to enhance their production capacity.
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal stated this in Kware LGA when he inspected agricultural processing machines to be distributed to farmers under the state’s FADAMA III additional funding scheme.
“We are starting with 30 tractors, with each of the three senatorial districts to have 10 tractors each. This initiative will be implemented with the collaboration of the FADAMA III coordinating office, the state ministry of agriculture and the state investment company which will provide the tractors,” the Governor stated.
He said a strict vetting process will be implemented for those to benefit from the gesture.
“We want to ensure that both the small and large scale farmers have access to the tractors and other machineries.
“We hope to expand the scheme to ensure we have enough tractors to help our farmers have access to modern farm tools at affordable prices,” he added.
Tambuwal said 127 farmer Processing Groups, made up of 1,385 small-holder farmers, have benefitted from the agricultural processing machines and equipment distributed to farmers across the state by the FADAMA III office in Sokoto.
According to him, in addition to the creation of two agricultural produce aggregation centres in the state, eleven tomato production net houses have been established at various locations in the state.
“This gesture is part of our collective efforts towards modernizing our farming techniques so as to improve yield and income of our farmers,” he stated.
The Governor further revealed that 243 unemployed youths have been trained to embrace agriculture, saying this was done with a view to exploring the agribusiness sector and instilling in the youths and women the technical and practical skills that could enhance their competitiveness in agri-prenueship.
Accenture: Technology fast changing lifestyles
Technology is now firmly embedded throughout our everyday lives and is reshaping large parts of society, Accenture’s Nigeria’s Managing Director Technology, Mr. Niyi Tayo, has said.
He said this during the presentation of a new report by the company in Lagos. Tayo explained that advancing technology is fueling intelligent enterprises and that this requires fundamental shift in leadership as contained in Accenture Tech Vision 2018.
According to him, just as cities developed around ports and then railroads, or people rebuilt their lives around electricity, the world today is reimagining itself around digital innovation — and, by extension, the companies that provide those services. He said this digital trend, thus, requires a new type of relationship, built on trust and the sharing of large amounts of personal information in a secure manner.
According to Tayo, Nigerian banks and telecommunication companies are also taking the first steps towards artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer service by implementing chatbots. Besides, he said that they are beginning to use advanced analytics to provide next best product offers to increase product uptake and fraud analytics to manage risks.
The Technology Vision identifies five emerging technology trends that companies must address if they are to build the partnerships needed to succeed in today’s digital economy: The Technology Vision identifies five emerging technology trends that companies must address if they are to build the partnerships needed to succeed in today’s digital economy, which include citizen AI, extended reality, data veracity, frictionless business and Internet of Thinking (IoTh).
“Through these new partnerships with customers, employees and business collaborators, companies are building greater trust and further integrating themselves into society, becoming more indispensable and fueling their own growth,” Niyi said.
In the report, Accenture noted that adopting AI for growth and positive social impact means forming new partnerships with customers and business partners Rapid advances in AI and other technologies are accelerating the creation of intelligent enterprises and enabling companies to integrate themselves into people’s lives, according to the annual technology report that predicts key technology trends likely to disrupt business over the next three years.
However, capitalising on growth opportunities while also having a positive impact on society requires a new era of leadership that prioritizes trust and greater responsibility, the report said.
The 2018 study highlights how rapid advancements in technologies, including AI, advanced analytics and the cloud, are enabling companies to not just create innovative products and services, but change the way people work and live.
This, in turn, is changing companies’ relationships with their customers, employees and business partners. As part of the Technology Vision, Accenture surveyed more than 6,300 business and IT executives worldwide.
More than four in five respondents (84 per cent) agree that through technology, companies are weaving themselves seamlessly into the fabric of how people live today. For example, they reported that Google, through its many applications and analytics capabilities, has integrated itself into people’s everyday lives thereby influencing their way of life.
Google maps are used for journey management, references and suggestions on places, products and services of interest and through this, Google can shape people’s consumption behaviours. Also, Feedback from users can influence uptake of suggestions from Google by other people.
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