Amid hitches, Nigeria’s e-payment transactions hit N600 trillion

•Nigerians transact N71tr in December as cashless scheme gains traction
•NIBSS Claims failed transactions at 0.75 per cent

Amid various teething challenges confronting the digital space, electronic payment transactions in December stood at N71 trillion, bringing the total volume of transactions last year to N600 trillion.

According to the statistics from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) Instant Payment (NIP), released yesterday, the N71 trillion was an all-time high monthly record on the platform. The rise could be attributed to the rising adoption of e-payment and festive activities.

The e-payment data showed a steady increase throughout 2023, amidst various challenges, including those witnessed during the critical cash crunch in the first quarter following the failed Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) naira redesign policy implemented under the then governor, Godwin Emefiele.

Indeed, the monthly analysis showed that Nigerians spent N38.9 trillion on electronic platforms in January 2023, while in February, e-payment value stood at N36.8 trillion.

In March 2023, the value of electronic transactions jumped to N48.3 trillion, driven by the scarcity of cash at that time. By April, a total of N41.3 trillion was spent on the electronic channels, while in May transaction volume stood at N45.9 trillion.

NIP transactions value in June 2023 was N45.3 trillion, a slight decline from the value recorded in May. July saw e-payment transactions jump to N47.4 trillion. In August, the value of NIP transactions climbed further to N50.9 trillion, while it rose to N51 trillion in September.

By October and November, transaction value stood at N59 trillion and N63.6 trillion respectively, while the highest transaction, N71.9 trillion, was recorded in December.

In a document earlier made available to The Guardian by the NIBSS, with emphasis on transactions by Nigerians during the festive period of last December, failure pattern was between 0.35 per cent to 0.95 per cent and an average processing time of 0.62.

urther analysis showed that in totality, the figure rose by 55 per cent from N387 trillion witnessed in 2022 to N600 trillion by the end of 2023, which was an all-time high in the country.

NIBSS statistics showed that e-payment volume hit an all-time high of 1.1 billion in March 2023, which was at the peak of time when Nigerians experienced cash scarcity and were compelled to transact through electronic channels.

However, the value for the month was not as high as what was recorded in December of the same year.

The volume of transactions processed by NIBSS for the year also jumped from 5.1 billion in 2022 to 9.7 billion in 2023. This represents a 90 per cent increase year on year.

The NIBSS Instant Payments (NIP) is an account-number-based, online real-time Inter-Bank payment solution developed in the year 2011 by NIBSS. It is the Nigerian financial industry’s preferred funds transfer platform that guarantees instant value to the beneficiary.

According to NIBSS, over the years, Nigerian banks have exposed NIP through their various channels, that is, Internet banking, bank branches, Kiosks, mobile apps, unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), POS, ATM, among others to their customers.

Meanwhile, experts have called for improved digital platforms to deepen Nigeria’s cashless economy drive.

Speaking with The Guardian, a telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, said failed transactions are a major threat to electronic transactions, stressing that more Nigerians keep facing these problems.

However, he said these challenges can be addressed by improving technology, and banks employing credible hands on the IT team.

According to him, more people are accepting and would still accept the channels of payment that are available if they are.

“With stability, we shall grow bigger,” he stated.

In a statement made available to journalists at the thick of the cash crunch crisis, the Director of Operations/head of the ICT Division at PPC, Patrick Ede, observed that the inadequacy of the e-payment channels to withstand the deluge of transactions orchestrated by the surge in the use of such channels for payment caused many failed and unsuccessful transactions.

The ICT expert called on banks to implement measures that will ensure all electronic payment channels can process simultaneously, quickly and efficiently.

Ede said, “The rising demand on the digital channels of banks calls for increased investment in reliable payment systems that speedily deliver on transactions.

“To alleviate the congestion on payment channels, banks should carry out an audit of payment channels to identify gaps and loopholes in the system for phased resolution. This first step will ensure that banks raise the standards of experiences they provide to customers and ensure that customers remain at the center of their business models.”

Meanwhile, the N200 billion owed telecoms operators by deposit money banks (DMBs) is still lingering as a telco official, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday, said: “Though, there have serious interventions at the highest levels of both sides, but we await concrete resolution that would lead to quick payment, at least part, if not all.”

The official said the USSD platform is contributing immensely to the growth of e-payment in the country, “as such service providers of the platform should be treated well. Agreements should be honoured as and when due.”

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