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Investigation reveals how banks contribute to long queues at ATMs

Lagos residents in Iyana Ipaja and environs have had a lot to contend with in recent times.

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Lagos residents in Iyana Ipaja, Ijaiye, Abule Egba, and environs have had a lot to contend with in recent times. For example, the dual carriage Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway that connects the network of suburbs and leads to the ancient city of Abeokuta has been under construction for about three years.

For over 2 million inhabitants of this area who rely on the Lagos-Abeokuta Express way to commute, slow moving traffic, dusty haze from coal tar and debris associated with road and bridge constructions are some of the challenges they have to deal with daily.

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First timers driving past the Lagos section of the 80 kilometre expressway that cuts across two of Lagos State’s largest local government areas will quickly observe a fast developing, densely populated neighbourhood full of shops, roadside sellers, hawkers, the popular danfo buses, okadas, filling stations and banks flanking either side of the road. Keen observers will notice something else too – lengthy queues outside nearly all the commercial banks waiting to access their Automated Teller Machines  (ATMs).

The queues sometimes stretch outside the ATM areas to banks’ parking lots, as customers wait in anguish to withdraw cash. At one of our stops, a mother carrying an infant behind her back sits waiting in the queue, while a young man holds out an umbrella to shield himself from the hot sun.

Most of the users of these ATMs accuse Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, Ecobank, First Bank and GTBank of neglect, due to the poor services they often receive at these banks’ ATMs located in the area.

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The customers, who made their frustrations known while speaking to Nairametrics, expressed displeasure over the persistent long queues that characterise most visits to ATM galleries in that part of Lagos. The queues, they said, are always there at different points of the day and week, and get even worse on Saturdays, public holidays, and festive seasons.

Poor banking services

According to the customers, the problem has now become a norm, while the banks seem unperturbed by the stress which their customers often go through just to withdraw money from their accounts. The customers also got to the point of accusing banks of deliberately withholding their monies, just so that they (the banks) could use said monies for transactions, thereby making profits at customers’ expense.

The customers alleged that the banks are neglectful towards them, probably because Iyana Ipaja is mainly comprised of low and middle-income residents. According to them, residents in highbrow areas such as Ikeja GRA and most parts of Lagos Island seldom experience difficulties while withdrawing money at bank ATMs.

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What factors are responsible for the queues?

Based on our findings, there are three main reasons why residents of Iyana Ipaja and environs often face the challenge of queueing longer than normal to withdraw their money.

Firstly, there are not enough banks in the area to adequately cater to the needs of the customers. In the heart of Iyana Ipaja, there are about just five banks available.

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Inasmuch as five banks may sound like a lot, it should also be noted that this part of Lagos is home to millions of Nigerians, as it also doubles as a major economic hub for small-scale business activities. Consequently, the residents, traders and commuters depend on the ATMs in these five banks for quick transactions.

Commenting on this situation, a bank customer who identified himself as Sunday Ubeze said, “Nigerian banks really need to make it a priority to open their branches in this part of Lagos.” According to him, the bank that he patronises does not even have a branch in Iyana Ipaja. To compound that problem, there are hardly any banks close to where he lives in Iyana Ipaja. As a result of that, not only does he always have to come to Iyana Ipaja Roundabout whenever he needs to make an emergency cash withdrawal, he is also forced to pay the mandatory withdrawal charge of N65.

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The second reason for the queues is that most of the banks fail to provide adequate maintenance for their Automated Teller Machines, thereby inhibiting optimal functionality. A visit to some of the ATM galleries of banks located in the area will show that most of the machines are always “out of service”, thereby limiting the number of working ATMs. Customers are, therefore, delayed as they are forced to queue up and use the few functioning machines.

“Temporarily unable to dispense cash”

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The last causative factor has to do with what some of the customers alleged as a deliberate ploy by the banks to keep them from withdrawing their money whenever they want. Some of the bank customers who spoke to Nairametrics accused banks of not putting money in ATMs, especially during the weekends. This, they alleged, is deliberate because the banks would rather “use our money for business than allow us withdraw it.”

A complicated challenge

Attempts to reach each of the affected banks for their comments on this matter proved futile. But that notwithstanding, Nairametrics spoke to a retail banker at Zenith Bank Plc who gave more insight into the situation. According to her, it is rather untrue to claim that banks intentionally withhold customers’ funds. This is because “it actually pays banks to shed weight (cash) in their vaults,” she said.

Using Zenith Bank as an example, she stated that branches earn a proportion of the charges paid by the customers on such withdrawals. Consequently, it does not work in their favour to withhold customers’ money.

Speaking further, she noted that during weekends, ATM managers are usually on weekend shifts to ensure ATM availability for the banking populace. She also stated that the challenge of long queues is not limited to the Iyana Ipaja area alone.

She did agree that malfunctioning machines and the scarcity of enough bank branches are all factors that contribute to the long queues. However, though it is good for banks to open up branches across Lagos, she cited money considerations as a major hindrance.

“It takes money to do that. Moreover, you don’t just establish a branch that would close down due to lack of profitability.”

More should be done

Banks need to set up more ATM galleries in places like Iyana Ipaja, where their presence is needed. However, doing this would require that the banks carry out adequate feasibility researches and ensure that the ATM galleries would at least be able to pay for their own maintenance instead of eating into the profits of the banks. More so, security concerns must be put into consideration in line with CBN mandates, and the necessary logistics and manpower concerns should be sorted out.

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In all, it is a fact that there are many bank customers living in Iyana Ipaja and environs. These customers often experience challenges when trying to withdraw money via ATMs. Unfortunately, the difficulties they face cause various forms of inconveniences for them. Some of the customers spoke about how they lost out on important opportunities and missed deadlines just because they queued for long hours trying to withdraw cash.

It is, therefore, for the good of all concerned parties, that the banks should do all that is necessary to put an end to this problem.

Patricia

Emmanuel covers the financial services sector for Nairametrics. Do you have a scoop for him? Well then, contact him via his email- [email protected]

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Xanthos

    July 16, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    banks along that axis needs to deploy more of ebusiness soluions like POS,Internet Banking, USSD and market them to businesses around to reduce cash transactions…

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Business

TikTok to relocate headquarters to London following approval by UK ministers

The technology firm has been under heavy scrutiny and criticism from the US government.

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TikTok to relocate headquarters to London following approval by UK ministers

ByteDance Ltd, the parent company of TikTok, is in the process of relocating its headquarters from Beijing to London, following a deal that was approved by UK ministers.

A report by Reuters also noted that the Chinese company’s founders will soon officially announce their intention to set up an office in London.

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This move may likely upset President Donald Trump, who had announced plans to ban TikTok in the United States of America. The US considers the UK as a reliable ally.

READ ALSO: ByteDance, Tiktok’s parent company, now worth over $100 billion

Nairametrics had reported about 2 weeks ago that the Beijing-based video-sharing social networking firm, had been in discussions with the British Government over the relocation of its headquarters to London. The move has been perceived by analysts/observers seen as part of ByteDance’s strategy to distance itself from its Chinese ownership.

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The technology firm has been under heavy scrutiny and criticism from the US Government over suspicions that China could be forcing it to turn over data. Earlier this year, the company was even labeled a potential counterintelligence threat by senior members of the US congress.

READ MORE: AFDB Investigative panel declares Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina Innocent

ByteDance recently came under intense pressure from the White House and US lawmakers to sell off TikTok’s US operations. It now has a 45-day deadline to negotiate with Microsoft over such a deal.

ByteDance Ltd is looking at all the available options to resolve its dispute with the American Government. In the meantime, Chief Executive Officer, Zhang Yiming, said no decision has been taken regarding the proposed sale of its US operations to Microsoft Corp.

READ ALSO: Microsoft is in talks to buy TikTok

The relocation of its headquarters to London might come as a surprise considering the current tension/dispute between the technology firm and the United States Government, who are close allies of the UK.

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It can be recalled that amid tensions between China and some Western Countries and in solidarity with the United States, the British Government recently banned Chinese Telecom firm, Huawei’s 5G networks in the country. According to the UK Government, Huawei’s products posed a threat to the security of the UK’s infrastructure.

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Business

Lagos state lists conditions that must be met by churches, mosques before reopening

The government specified that the conditions must be met for worship centres to open.

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Sanwo-Olu, COVID-19: Lagos ramps up measure to smash disease as it begins fumigation, Covid-19: Total lockdowm imminent as Lagos fears confirmed cases could hit 39,000, Hotels to remain shut in Lagos, as manufacturing and construction companies get conditional waivers, COVID-19 palliative: Sanwo-Olu concludes Homegrown School Feeding Programme

The Lagos State Government has introduced some measures and conditions that must be met/fulfiled by all religious centres and places of worships that are planning to reopen, following further relaxation of lockdown.

These measures were contained in a press statement that was issued by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and seen by Nairametrics.

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READ: Malabu Scandal: Netherland, Switzerland to send $200 million to Nigeria

Nairametrics had reported that the Lagos State Governor on Saturday, August 1, during his 17th briefing on the state’s COVID-19 response, announced the reopening of worship centres with effect from August 7th. Now, the Lagos State Government has specified that the following conditions must be met for worship centres that are planning to open;

  • Only regular services/gatherings are permitted to hold. Night vigils and other non-regular programmes remain prohibited until further notice.
  • Attendees above 65 years are strongly discouraged from attending worship services.
  • Consider holding services and gatherings in large, well-ventilated areas or outdoors, as circumstances and faith tradition allow.
  • No face mask, no entry policy, must be maintained throughout the duration of the services.
  • Regular cleaning and disinfection of facilities must be carried out to maintain clean and hygienic environments before and after every service.
  • Appropriate screening equipment for COVID-19 symptoms such as a contactless temperature check must be available for entrants into the facility.
  • It is mandatory to provide hand-washing facilities and sanitizers at the entry and exit point of the premises.
  • National emergency response phone lines must be displayed prominently on the premises.
  • Handshakes, hugs and high fives are not permitted at services or gatherings and this should be emphasized by displaying appropriate signs prominently.
  • The use of stationary collection boxes and electronic methods for collection of the offering must be encouraged.
  • The flow of human traffic in and out of these places of worship must be conducted in an organized and orderly manner.

READ MORE: Lagos sets up N1 billion seed capital for hospitality sector, rolls out optical fibre across the state

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The Governor urged Lagosians to fully comply with the measures outlined in the new regulations, stressing that Lagos State Safety Commission has a statutory responsibility to monitor the activities and operations of all organizations and worship centres that have been permitted to re-open.

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Business

Shoprite to leave Nigeria after 15 years

Shoprite announced its plan to sell off its Nigerian operations.

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Shoprite’s sales drop by 8.1% in Nigeria in H2 2019 over Xenophobic attacks

South African retailer, Shoprite International Limited announced earlier today that it is considering a potential divestment from its Nigerian operation – Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited.

This was disclosed in the company’s latest operational and voluntary trading update which was published this morning.

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Backstory: The South African retailer has been struggling in Nigeria in recent years owing largely to increased competition and government policies such as border closures and local production of consumables. Nairametrics reported in April that Shoprite Nigeria lost 8.1% of sales in the H2 of 2019, which was related to the September 2019 xenophobic attacks.

Meanwhile, Shoprite is not the only South African company that has recently announced exit from Nigeria. Nairametrics also reported that another South company,  Mr. Price, would be exiting Nigeria to focus on the South African market. Already, the company has closed 4 out of its 5 retail outlets in Nigeria.

Unfortunately, Nigeria’s ‘difficult’ business environment has been blamed for these major divestments.

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Shoprite, which has spent 15 years in Nigeria stated that customer visits for the year declined by 7.4% due to the pandemic lockdowns. It also noted that outside South Africa, sales only increased by 0.1%, and an overall decline in sales of 1.4% for the year.

“Following approaches from various potential investors, and in line with our re-evaluation of the Group’s operating model in Nigeria, the Board has decided to initiate a formal process to consider the potential sale of all, or a majority stake, in Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Shoprite International Limited.

“As such, Retail Supermarkets Nigeria Limited may be classified as a discontinued operation when Shoprite reports its results for the year. Any further updates will be provided to the market at the appropriate time,” the update read in part.

Shoprite joins two other South African retailers, Mr. Price and Woolworths who have also announced exists from Nigeria due to a harsh operating environment.

What this means: Shoprite’s exit from Nigeria once again brings to the fore the challenges South African companies are facing in Africa’s largest economy as they try to replicate the successes of MTN.

  • Shoprite is a flagship retail outlet in Nigeria and has been the major anchor tenant for shopping mall developers in Nigeria.
  • With their exit, funding for the development of shopping malls in Nigeria could be in jeopardy as anchor tenants are the major drivers of mall constructions. However, the new owners, could sustain this drive and continue to expand beyond its current coverage locations.
  • The future for Shoprite and its employees will now depend on the ability of its South African parent company to find buyers.

 

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